A MAJOR operation to clean up and decommission Berkeley nuclear power station, estimated to cost £53 million, is set to begin later this year.

The eight-year project will transform the site, which is owned by Magnox and the government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Four "blower house" superstructures that surround the two reactor buildings at the Berkeley site are being demolished as part of the work.

In addition, the project includes asbestos removal, deplant, other demolition and construction works in and around the blower houses. 

The site which is near Gloucestershire Science & Technology Park, first began producing electricity in 1962 and was eventually shut down in 1989.

Work is now expected to start in October this year. 

Stroud News and Journal: Berkeley reactors and blower houses at the site Berkeley reactors and blower houses at the site (Image: Magnox)

Ross McAllister, Magnox programme delivery director said: “This is one of the largest decommissioning projects that the Berkeley site has seen for several years.  

“It was originally planned for the 2070’s so it is fantastic to bring that forward by five decades in our aim to deliver our mission better, faster and even safer.

“The buildings will be emptied of the residual metallic low-level waste and undergo a full asbestos clean before being demolished.  

“The work will be another major step forwards in sustainably decommissioning the Berkeley site with our supply chain partners.”

Physical construction of the new build element to support waste processing is expected to commence in October 2023. 

Meanwhile it is hoped that work to start emptying the blower houses of residual metallic waste will begin in Spring 2024.

A £30.8m contract has been awarded to energy company Altrad who will be supported by other Celadon alliance companies including Veolia KDC Decommissioning Services, NSG Environmental, OBR Construction, Mammoet, and Cavendish Nuclear. 

Meanwhile, decommissioning company, Nuclear Waste Services were awarded a £13.7m contract to manage 2,400 tonnes of metallic waste. 

Stroud News and Journal: Berkeley boilers in transit through the town in 2012 Berkeley boilers in transit through the town in 2012 (Image: Magnox)

The Berkeley site was the first commercial nuclear power station in the UK to be decommissioned.

Previously it was not expected until sometime after 2070 that the site was expected to be given final clearance.

So far, the decommissioning process has included removing all fuel from the site in 1992, as well as demolishing structures such as the turbine hall in 1995 and cooling ponds in 2001.

In 2012, five 310-tonne boilers were moved from the station to Sweden for decontamination and recycling.