Nuclear Energy Futures Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) visit to NFI, Wylfa and Trawsfynydd

On March 14, 2022, the CDT PhD students of cohort one and two from London Imperial College, Cambridge University, Bristol University, and the Open University arrived in Bangor. The purpose of the trip was to visit the Magnox nuclear sites of Wylfa and Trawsfynydd, both of which are presently being decommissioned.

Members of the CDT in castle Dolbadarn

The unique position of Bangor on the coast of North Wales places it between the two Magnox sites. Wylfa is on the nearby island of Anglesey off the north Wales coast and Trawsfynydd is on the opposite side of the Snowdonia national park. Because of the sizes of the cohorts, it was decided that cohort one would visit Wylfa and cohort two would visit Trawsfynydd.

A map to show that Bangor is situated between Wylfa and Trawsfynydd
“The unique position of Bangor on the coast of North Wales places it between the two Magnox sites.”

Cohort one’s trip to Wylfa

Cohort one’s trip by coach through Anglesey was followed by security checks and a safety brief before being granted access into the Wylfa site. The first stage of the tour was through the turbine hall. At ground level, the hall had a basement that extended three floors underground to house the generators with a large indoor crane to conduct maintenance, which was now used for decommissioning. The group was informed by a guide that when it becomes time to decommission the crane, they may open the side of the building and drive the crane straight out.

The next stage of the tour was to the control room. Screens, buttons and lights were found with desks facing outwards in an oval. The last stage of the tour was to the reactor halls one and two. High above the reactor hall floor were two glass walls and viewing booths that looked over each of the reactor halls. 

Cohort one group photo at Wylfa – image courtesy of Magnox

Cohort two’s trip to Trawsfynydd

Cohort two were brought through security and safety briefings before entering the site. The cohort was split into two groups and toured around the Trawsfynydd facilities. With Trawsfynydd being further along in the decommissioning process, the cohort could observe both the nuclear science and civil engineering processes incorporated within nuclear decommissioning, each of which boasted their own unique challenges.

Cohort one and two visit Llanberis

For the last day of the visit, both cohorts were invited to Llanberis, a town at the foot of Snowdon. The outing begun at the side of Llyn Padarn. A short walk led to the lake-side castle Dolbadarn which, once ascended, offered stunning views of the lake and surrounding valley. From there, another short walk found the group at the National Slate Museum, which presented workshops and machinery that have been used, sometimes, since the 19th century. Much of the machinery was powered using water wheels, which is why the location is a fitting site for the Electric Mountain hydroelectric power station. Unfortunately, tour visits to Electric Mountain are currently on hold but may open again soon. The trip ended with a meal at a local restaurant, followed by a walk along the lakeside before returning to Bangor.

Lectures in Bangor University

As part of the CDT trip, three talks were kindly given by guest speakers – Andrew J. Taylor (Regional Decommissioning Manager of Magnox) spoke  on the decommissioning of the two Magnox nuclear sites in North Wales. Sean Martin, a history and law postgraduate of Bangor University gave a talk on ‘Contested Landscapes of the Trawsfynydd Site’ which detailed the history of the Trawsfynydd site as well as its unique brutalist design by Sir Basil Spence. The final speaker was Prof. John Idris Jones, Chair of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone. John Idris Jones gave his unique perspectives on the Trawsfynydd site as well as the future of nuclear in North Wales.

This article was written by PhD students Gareth Stephens and Corey Bevan.