Hunterston 'A' Nuclear Power Station

Hunterston 'A' Power Station
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Hunterston 'A' Power Station

Located next to the operational Hunterston 'B' station, 2 miles (3 km) northwest of West Kilbride, some 5 miles (8 km) south of Largs on the North Ayrshire coast, Hunterston 'A' is an old Magnox nuclear power station, which comprised two 160 megawatt gas-cooled reactors, somewhat larger than the reactors installed at Scotland's first nuclear power station at Chapelcross. The Magnox reactors, so-called because magnesium alloy was used to contain the fuel rods, were designed to produce weapons-grade plutonium for the military, as well as power for the civilian market.

Hunterston 'A' was opened in 1964 by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002). At the time it was regarded as the most powerful and technically-advanced nuclear power station in the world. It closed on reaching the end of its operational life in 1990 and is currently being decommissioned by the government-owned nuclear contractor BNFL. The decommissioning process is expected to take approximately 135 years and involve the removal of some 37,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste.

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