Fifty years of safe operations for the UK’s first commercial nuclear reprocessing plant

Operational Excellence

Past and present Magnox Reprocessing Plant employees share fond memories during the visit

The UK’s first commercial nuclear reprocessing plant is celebrating a land mark birthday – still going strong after 50 years of safe operations.


(Magnox at 50 video attached below.)


To celebrate the special birthday, Sellafield Ltd, the company who manage operations at Sellafield today, invited 50 former staff members back to visit the old facility, and see how it has changed over the years.


One of the group, John Hall, who was the night shift manager the night the very first fuel rods were put into the plant, said: “The Magnox reprocessing plant really has proved to be the backbone of the UK’s nuclear industry, and it’s doing important work today as it has always done. 


“I remember that first night when it had been turned on, we went on the night shift not knowing what to expect. I mean, we sort of knew it was going to work because we were professional and we trusted the theory, but it was still something of a leap of faith to see exactly how it would work and what would happen — as there was no way you could be absolutely certain until you turned it on and waited to see what happened. It was a nervous first night and something I will never forget.


“There has obviously been a lot of modernisation in terms of bringing the plant up to current safety standards, and retrospectively fitting state of the art safety equipment, including computers, but in essence it still looks and feels very much like it did all those years ago. When I retired in 1994 I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back – but I’m glad I’ve been able to. I’m proud of having played a part in something that has been so important to the global nuclear industry and the fabric of the local area.”


Mark Jackson, the current Head of the Magnox Operating Unit said: “The longevity of the plant, and its safety record, are a real success for not only the nuclear industry, but industry as a whole.


“Imagine a car from 1964 still running on the roads today, and not just being brought out for exhibitions or displays, but actually doing hard miles, every month, come what may. That’s what our Magnox Reprocessing Plant does, and we are extremely proud of it.


“Of course from time to time we face challenges – you’d expect to with a plant this old – but we have a skilled and talented workforce, many of whom have worked in this plant for their entire careers, and whatever comes up, we overcome it and move forward. Some of the operators on the plant have been there for more than 40 years, they know it inside out and are able to pass on their knowledge to the younger team members.”


For more information please see the press release.