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Half way there on decommissioning Calder Hall

The cooling towers at Calder Hall were demolished in 2007. Photo: ITV Border

The process of decommissioning the world's first full-scale nuclear power station in west Cumbria, has reached the halfway mark.

Calder Hall produced electricity and radio cobalt - used in the treatment of cancer, for 47 years before it closed in 2003.

Now, workers have reached the halfway point in the defueling programme which began in 2011. They have to remove tens of thousand of fuel rods from the site's reactors.

It is scheduled for completion in 2019 and then it can be fully decommissioned and shut down.

Calder Hall's cooling towers were demolished in 2007. Credit: ITV Border

Calder Hall began powering homes and businesses with carbon-freeelectricity in 1956, the year it was opened by the Queen.

It closed in 2003, following 47 years of safe operations – 27years longer than was originally planned.

As well as producing electricity, Calder Hall was also used to sterilise hypodermic syringes and produce radio cobalt used in the treatment of cancer.

The programme is going really well with a gradual but sustained acceleration in defueling rates since we began in 2011.

“We have two more reactors to empty before our target completion date of 2019. This will allow time for the fuel to be reprocessed in the Magnox reprocessing plant which will complete its operations in 2020."

– Glyn Thomas, Sellafield Ltd’s head of Calder Hall
Calder Hall opened 60 years ago in west Cumbria. Credit: ITV Border
10%
of Britain's electricity was produced by 11 Magnox stations, including Calder Hall.

Calder Hall was the first of a series of Magnox stations to be built in the UK - so-called because the fuel cans were made of magnesium alloy.

Calder Hall and Wylfa, on Anglesey, north Wales, are the last two remaining Magnox stations going through the defueling process.

Wylfa was the final one of the fleet to close, coming off the grid in December 2015.