Big Bang Changes Cumbrian Skyline

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Big Bang Changes Cumbrian Skyline

Updated: 12:37, Saturday September 29, 2007

Four cooling towers at Sellafield's Calder Hall site in Cumbria have been razed to the ground after helping generate electricity for nearly 50 years.

The world's first commercial nuclear power station is being demolished.

Explosives were used to bring down the 289ft towers, which were officially opened by the Queen on October 17, 1956.

Andy Scargill, Sellafield's decommissioning programme superintendent, said: "It has all come to fruition. It looks like two minutes' worth of work today, but it has taken three years to get to this point."

The destruction of the four towers is the first step to decommission the 167,000 square metre Calder Hall site, which comprises 62 buildings.

After years of criticism of Sellafield - and a public consultation - permission was given in June 2005 to decommission Calder Hall, which actually stopped generating electricity in March 2003.

The four towers provided water to the closed energy system, cooling the water on its return to the turbine hall, a key role in the production of power.

The towers contain asbestos and their demolition is part of the largest asbestos removal project in Europe, according to a Sellafield spokesman.

It will take 12 weeks to remove the rubble - with the towers' steel bars being recycled where possible.

In its early life Calder Hall was primarily used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, with two fuel loads per year, and electricity production was a secondary purpose.

From 1964 it was mainly used on commercial fuel cycles, but it was not until April 1995 that the Government announced that all production of plutonium for weapons purposes had ceased.


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