41-year old nuclear reactor shuts down early

LONDON Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:11pm BST

The Wylfa nuclear reactor is seen in an undated handout photo. One of the world's oldest nuclear reactors shut down for good in Britain on Wednesday evening, five days earlier than originally planned after an operational issue forced it to disconnect from the grid, operator Magnox said on Thursday. REUTERS/Magnox/Handout

The Wylfa nuclear reactor is seen in an undated handout photo. One of the world's oldest nuclear reactors shut down for good in Britain on Wednesday evening, five days earlier than originally planned after an operational issue forced it to disconnect from the grid, operator Magnox said on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Magnox/Handout

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LONDON (Reuters) - One of the world's oldest nuclear reactors shut down for good in Britain on Wednesday evening, five days earlier than originally planned after an operational issue forced it to disconnect from the grid, operator Magnox said on Thursday.

The 41-year old reactor 2 at Wylfa nuclear power plant on Anglesey in Wales stopped producing electricity at around 6.00 p.m. British time on Wednesday, cutting 620 megawatts of power capacity from Britain's system.

The reactor was initially scheduled to stop operating on April 30, but after it shut down following an operational issue on Wednesday, operator Magnox decided not to bring it back online.

"Today was a significant milestone in Wylfa's history. Although it is the end of an era, we must now focus our efforts on safe generation with Reactor 1," said Stuart Law, Wylfa site director.

Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is assessing whether partially used fuel from the now defunct reactor 2 can be transferred to reactor 1, which uses the same type of fuel and is equally old, to allow it to continue operating until 2014.

The Wylfa nuclear units use a specific type of nuclear fuel that is no longer being produced.

The ONR is expected to make a decision on the matter this summer, Magnox said.

Magnox also shut down its Oldbury reactor in late February, at 44 years the oldest operating nuclear reactor in the world at the time.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Jane Baird)

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