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Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants

When a Nuclear power plant reaches the end of its life, it needs to be decommissioned safely. Following stringent regulations ensures that the process is safe, carried out with minimal risk and confirming that once the process is complete, the site can be released for future use.

What is decommissioning?

Decommissioning is simply the term given to the process by which nuclear power plants are retired from service. The process is long and potentially dangerous due to the radioactive nature of the area, and thus involves a lot of planning to ensure the project runs without errors.

Reasons for decommissioning

There are three main reasons for nuclear power plants to be shut down:

Experimental – If operation of the early commercial power plant can no longer be justified, usually for economic reasons.

Accident or Incident – If an accident or incident has occurred that involves repair that cannot be economically justified.

Regulatory impediment – Sites can be closed earlier than planned due to protocols impeding the current processes.

Example of the decommissioning process

The decommissioning process is a lengthy process with a lot of project planning and stages involved. An example of this is Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station in Snowdonia, which is one of the first generation power plants in the UK, with decommissioning estimated to take 90 years to complete. (1) The site is currently at the Care and Maintenance (C&M) preparations phase of the decommissioning process. This stage focusses on the decommissioning and deplanting of buildings, including retrieving, treating and processing any waste, in order for the C&M phase to take place. (2) Each of the Magnox sites go through a total of 5 phases in their lifecycle:

  • Generation
  • Defuelling
  • Care & Maintenance Preparations
  • Care & Maintenance
  • Final Site Clearance

How suppliers can help

HTL Group are one of the few remaining British OEM’s that have an extensive range of tooling that is readily available to supply for rental and or purchase. With equipment ranging from controlled bolting, flange working and portable machining, HTL are also able to provide technical advice and assist in recommending the correct tools for your project.

Tailored tooling packages can similarly be designed and delivered to site to ensure minimal downtime, as well as ECITB accredited MJI training courses to provide technicians with the skills required for safe working procedures.

HTL are best placed to provide you with tooling solutions for all Shutdowns and Decommissioning projects in the nuclear industry and beyond.

To find out how HTL can assist you with your next project arrange for an onsite demonstration or meeting at a time that suits you. Alternatively, for further information or quotations, call +44 (0)1670 700 000 or email

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