Hollywood beckons for nuclear power station’s sci-fi control desk, decommissioning agency says

Decommissioning contractors sell Magnox hardware to Harry Potter film studio
The reactor in-core inspection desk from Sizewell A NDA

By Jim Dunton

08 Sep 2020

A futuristic control desk from a disused nuclear power facility in Suffolk has been sold to a film studio and is expected to be used on the sets of future blockbusters, the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency has said.

The NDA said the “reactor in-core inspection desk” from the Sizewell A power station had been sold on an internet auction site, with the winning bid of £10,200 coming from a film studio based near Oxford that has previously worked on Harry Potter films among other box-office hits.

The desk allowed workers to remotely check conditions deep inside the reactors at Sizewell A and was last used in 2005, just before the site stopped generating electricity.

Subcontractors working for the NDA’s clean-up contractor Magnox Ltd decided to auction the desk once it had been inspected and certified as contamination-free as an alternative to dismantling the equipment, which was state-of-the-art when it was commissioned more than 50 years ago.

Magnox engineering and asset-management director Caron Weaver said the sale was a cost-effective alternative to months of painstaking work taking the desk apart by hand, and proved there was still value in vintage power-station equipment.

“Our mindset is changing to ensure we exploit our assets and not follow the norm and throw them away as waste,” she said.

“Before we throw away any item we must consider reuse and we must achieve best value for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the UK tax payer and, most importantly, the environment through reuse and resale.”

Sizewell A disposal manager Mark Thurston said each section of the desk would have taken two people at least one week to dismantle for scrap.

“I look forward to spotting it in a film at some point in the future,” he added.

The NDA did not name the film studio that bought the desk, but said the company had been involved with the production of World War Z, Iron Man 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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