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Last Magnox nuclear power plant throws off switch in Wales
by Staff Writers
London (XNA) Jan 01, 2016

illustration only

The world's last surviving Magnox nuclear power plant closed Wednesday when the off switch was finally thrown.

Wylfa power plant on the island of Anglesey in Wales has generated electricity for 44 years. It was capable of producing 20 percent of the electricity needs of Wales.

Wylfa was one of the 11 nuclear power reactors in Britain, using a magnesium-aluminium alloy, hence the name Magnox, to clad radio active fuel rods.

The Magnox system was exported by Britain to Japan and Italy. All have since closed.

Designed to work as power plants and producers of plutonium for nuclear weapons, the system became obsolete, leading to a closure program in Britain that started in 1989 when the first Magnox plan was closed. Most were built in the 1950s and 1960s, with Wylfa the last to open in 1971.

Originally scheduled for shutdown in 2010, the Wylfa reactor continued to produce energy for an additional five years, with the end of 2015 set as the final closure date.

After Wednesday's final switch off, the plant will move into the next stage of its lifecycle, with the defuelling and decommissioning of the site, a process that will span many years.

Anglesey's links with nuclear power are far from over with plans to build a new plant, costing over 21 billion U.S. dollars, with two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) generating 2,700 MWs of power.

The Wylfa Newydd plant is to be built by Hitachi following its recent take over of Horizon Nuclear Power, with a mid-2020s target for the start up of power generating. It will create jobs for 1,000 employees, mostly recruited locally.

The British government in the 1950s agreed to a program of nuclear power plants partly to reduce the stranglehold of the powerful coalminers' union.

Ironically the closure of Wylfa comes just weeks after Britain's last remaining deep coal mine, Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire, also closed.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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