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October 1956. Calder Hall Nuclear Station

Calder Hall Power Station

The opening of Calder Hall power station by Her Majesty the Queen on October 17th will mark an epoch in the history of power development. For Calder Hall is the first power station in the world to generate electricity on an industrial scale from nuclear energy.

Moreover, Calder Hall is the forerunner of a group of nuclear power stations which will constitute the first stage in Great Britain’s 10-year programme for the construction of 12 nuclear power stations by 1965.

The first group of these stations will be advanced versions of the Calder Hall design, based on the gas-cooled, graphite-moderated natural uranium reactor. They will, however, have the benefit of current technical improvements, including up-rating of the reactors.

1956 Calder Hall Nuclear Power Station

Readers' comments (5)

  • I was so excited to follow on the radio the Calder Hall opening by the Queen. Of course we didn't know at the time that it was ctually a subterfuge to produce weapons-grade Plutonium. The heat exchangers were there simply to stop the core from melting. I was not so pleased to receive a Strontium-90 dose from the later fire. Let's not ever become complacent about fission reactors.

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  • The fire was not at the Calder Hall commercial station but at one of the earlier prototype Windscale pile reactors.

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  • The race for nuclear diverted money away from the UKs space programme and killed it.
    From an analysis of the industry after official secrets were shown, we only raced for nuclear power so that we could keep up the US and the nuclear arms race.
    I wonder how much it cost to clean this up?
    I bet there are no official figures for the moneys spent on this; whole life costing that is.

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  • I too can remember (I do believe we had a tiny tele-9 inch? screen) watching this event: I had just started my 'O' levels year at school: and our physics master assured us that the cost to produce electricity by this route would be so small they would not even bother to charge for it!

    I note the comments from those who question the 'waste' left behind and the costs to contain/correct/de-commission the facilities. We, as a society have many other examples of 'waste' left behind from former apparently essential facilities: that we still have to use; and which we will eventually need to de-commission. Answers on a post-card please. Mike b

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  • Having provided a substantial number of the technologists who (at Los Alamos) did the basic 'bomb' work, it was somewhat galling for HMG to be told by the US Congress, who passed a special law confirming (even though it had previously been agreed that all info would be shared) No, you can't have it! Wasn't there a then Foreign Secretary (and of the Left?) who said that if we did not have 'it' "he would be going naked into the conference chamber".

    I can recomment a US (writen by Oppenheimer, etc) book published in August 1945 (that early!) which described many elements of the entire project. Interestingly, the liaison between the USAEA and du Pont (who were the primary contractors for the Manhatten project) is described in detail. FRD and Carpenter (CEO of du Pont, who was also the CEO of General Motors) defined that contract. Du pont received their costs (according to standard accounting practices) and $1.00. Carpenter pointing out that as a public Co with shareholders, he had a fudiciary duty to look afrter their interests by making a profit!
    Fellow Bloggers may enjoy a short section of a book, attached.Mike B

    “This was the start of a liaison I would cherish and treasure all my working life. In 1968 DuPont was the premier chemical technology company in the world. “Better things for better living through Chemistry.” was their mantra. Although it was difficult to admit it, they were even more able than my first love, ICI! Their reputation was well deserved. Just for the record, as such is not generally known, DuPont had been the main contractors for the Manhattan Project-the atomic bomb-during WWII. Though the firm had made its name and strong links with the US East Coast Establishment long before then, making powder and shot for the Union Army in the American Civil War.

    A life-time later it was my privilege to be responsible for the technical and marketing due-diligence required by the consortium of US and International banks advising Koch Inc of Kansas when they took over the majority of DuPont's synthetic fibre interests. How the wheel turns!

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