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Contaminated Sellafield chimney to be dismantled via Financial Times

The site of Britain’s worst nuclear accident is being cleaned up after more than 50 years, a symbolic step forward in the country’s struggle to deal with its nuclear legacy while planning a new generation of power stations.

The chimney of the old Windscale plant at Sellafield, where a fire broke out in 1957, is to be dismantled after site managers said the radioactivity had decayed to safer levels.

September 5, 2013 7:31 pm

Contaminated Sellafield chimney to be dismantled

By Andrew Bounds and Sylvia Pfeifer

Filtered photograph of Sellafield nuclear plant, Cumbria©Science Photo LibraryThe capped tower at Sellafield, behind the golfball-shaped gas reactor, will be dismantled

The site of Britain’s worst nuclear accident is being cleaned up after more than 50 years, a symbolic step forward in the country’s struggle to deal with its nuclear legacy while planning a new generation of power stations.

The chimney of the old Windscale plant at Sellafield, where a fire broke out in 1957, is to be dismantled after site managers said the radioactivity had decayed to safer levels.

The news comes as Japan struggles to contain radioactive water leaks more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear plant and amid criticism of the slow pace of the clean-up of Sellafield, Europe’s largest nuclear facility.

Steve Slater, head of decommissioning at the site, said: “Bringing the chimney down will be a real visual demonstration of our commitment to cleaning up Sellafield.”

The 110m-high structure on the Cumbrian coast is the signature image of Britain’s troubled nuclear past, along with the decommissioned golf ball-shaped advanced gas reactor.

“The decommissioning challenges posed by the pile chimney are unique – no other structure in the world provides the same complexity in terms of radiological and conventional decommissioning constraints,” Mr Slater said.

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