Friday 22 March 2019

Towers come tumbling down in Sellafield dust cloud

A CONTROVERSIAL piece of industrial heritage crumbled to the ground at 9am yesterday, sending a massive dust cloud out over the Irish Sea.

The first two of four 88-metre high cooling towers at Sellafield, in Cumbria, were exploded as part of the Calder Hall site's decommissioning.

Only four minutes later, the final pair of giant cooling towers were detonated as hundreds of residents watched from advantage points around the Sellafield site.

The world's first commercial nuclear power station -- opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1956 -- stopped generating electricity in March 2003.

Yesterday's operation was a milestone in the journey to end the power station's contribution to the UK national grid.

There was a massive amount of work behind the two thunderous booms that echoed around Cumbria, said Andy Scargill, Sellafield's decommissioning programme superintendent.

``It looks like two minutes' worth of work today but it has taken three years to get to this point," he said.

After years of criticism of Sellafield -- and a public consultation -- permission was given in June 2005 to decommission Calder Hall.

The four 50-year-old towers, which contain asbestos, provided cooling water to the closed energy system -- cooling the water on its return to the turbine hall, a key role in the production of power.

It will now take 12 weeks to remove rubble from the 167,000sqm site.

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