Major progress has been made restoring the Winfrith site, since the start of decommissioning in the 1990s. Winfrith was opened in 1957, to offer additional space for the UK’s civil nuclear research programme.
It became a centre for research and development, including the prototype high gas cooled reactor DRAGON and the SGHWR (Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor), which provided enough electricity to the National Grid to power a small town. Later the site also diversified into other disciplines, such as safety testing and oil exploration.
Winfrith has had at various times, nine research and development reactors, only one of these SGHWR fed into the national grid. The last operational reactor at Winfrith closed in 1995, since then the focus for the site has been on decommissioning.
Of the nine original uniquely designed reactors, seven have been decommissioned and dismantled. The two remaining reactors DRAGON and SGHWR have been defuelled and placed in safe care and maintenance.
In the early 1990s, the Winfrith Technology Centre was established; this was transferred to English Partnerships in 2004.
Almost a third of the site’s clean-up programme has been completed and no high hazard nuclear facilities now exist. The decommissioning programme is scheduled for completion in 2040, with site closure by 2048.