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Former workers recall glory days of Magnox plant

It's 50 years since the start of operations at the Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria.

The plant opened in 1964 and to date, it has reprocessed 52 thousand tonnes of radioactive waste from Magnox power stations in the UK.

Thousands of people have worked there, it now employs around 400.

To mark the facility's 50th birthday, 50 former workers were invited along, including one engineer who was there on the very first day it opened.

Our cameras were allowed in for the first time in half a century. Matthew Taylor reports.

Magnox plant has been 'safely run for 50 years'

The plant was built in 1964
The Sellafield magnox reprocessing plant was built in 1964 Credit: Sellafield Ltd

It's 50 years since the Sellafield magnox reprocessing plant began operating.

In that time, the West Cumbrian facility has reprocessed more than 50,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel. It will reprocess a further 3,000 tonnes before it closes in six years time.

Staff work to produce uranium and plutonium for making nuclear power
Staff work to produce uranium and plutonium for making nuclear power Credit: Sellafield Ltd

It produces uranium and plutonium which could be reused in making nuclear power in the future.

Opponents of nuclear energy have criticised the amount of discharges from the plant over the years but Sellafield Ltd, which runs the operation, said it has been "safely run for 50 years."

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50 years of Sellafield reprocessing plant

It's 50 years since the Sellafield magnox reprocessing plant began operating.

In that time, the West Cumbrian facility has reprocessed more than 50,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel.

It will reprocess a further 3,000 tonnes before it closes in six years' time.

The plant separates spent fuel rods into plutonium and uranium which could be reused in power station in the future.

Sir Tony Cunningham says 'the time is right' to retire

After a career as a councillor, mayor, MEP and MP - the knight, Sir Tony Cunningham has decided to retire from Westminster at the next election.

The Workington MP said he wanted to spend more time with his family, particularly his young son.

Our Political Correspondent Paul Brand caught up with him in his constituency as he announced his decision.

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Trivia: Sir Tony Cunningham's varied career

Sir Tony Cunningham received his Knighthood in 2012 Credit: PA
  • Sir Tony was born in Workington in 1952 and has spent most of his life there, working as a teacher before going into politics.
  • His political career began locally, serving as Mayor of Workington and Leader of Allerdale Council in the 1990s.
  • In 1994 he was elected to the European Parliament where he developed an interest in international development.
  • In 1995 he published the Cunningham Report, which was the first report to call for the complete and outright ban of landmines.
  • Before becoming an MP in 2001, he briefly worked as Chief Executive of the human rights organisation Indict, looking at authoritarian regimes such as Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq.
  • In his spare time Sir Tony is an avid sports fan, playing rugby and football and running regularly. While living in Zanzibar he even played first division soccer.

Sir Tony Cunningham: time right to retire

by Paul Brand
Sir Tony says the time is right to stand down Credit: John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

At the next election, Sir Tony Cunningham will be 62.

After a long career in politics as a councillor, MEP, MP and government whip, he ITV Border "the time just feels right to go."

There will be many in Labour eyeing it up as the party now searches for a new candidate.

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