Dismantling of the Jose Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant

The José Cabrera nuclear power plant is located in the municipality of Almonacid de Zorita, in Guadalajara, and it was the first nuclear power plant to begin operation in Spain, in 1968. After 38 years of operation, it was shut down by Ministerial Order on 20 April 2006. This entailed the first full dismantling of a nuclear power plant in Spain.


  • 2003

    Enresa submits the Basic Strategy Analysis for the dismantling of the plant.

  • 2006

    Enresa submits the preliminary Dismantling Plan to the Nuclear Safety Council.

    The Ministry of Industry grants approval for shutdown on 20 April 2006.

    Start of spent fuel management and pre-dismantling tasks.

  • 2008

    Enresa applies for authorisation for dismantling.

  • 2009

    Approval issued by the Nuclear Safety Council.

    Loading of spent fuel casks and emplacement in the onsite interim storage facility.

  • 2010

    1 February 2010: The Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade authorises the transfer of ownership from Gas Natural Fenosa to Enresa for the start of the dismantling phase.

    Start of the dismantling of conventional components and disassembly of equipment and refitting of the turbine building.

  • 2011

    Start of disassembly in radiological areas.

  • 2012

    Start of underwater segmentation of the reactor internals.

    Conditioning in the auxiliary building of the first cask with waste from the reactor.

  • 2013

    Segmentation of the reactor internals is completed.

    Start of disassembly of the steam generator.


    Segmentation of the reactor internals is completed.

    Start of disassembly of the steam generator.

    Loading of four containers with special waste from the segmentation of the reactor internals and operational waste in the individual interim storage facility.

    Start of the underwater cutting of the reactor vessel closure.

  • 2014

    Start of the cutting of the reactor vessel.

  • 2015

    Segmentation of the reactor vessel is completed.

    Disassembly of the steam generator is completed.

    Dismantling of components and systems from the radiological containment and auxiliary areas is completed.


    Segmentation of the reactor vessel is completed.

    Disassembly of the steam generator is completed.

    Dismantling of components and systems from the radiological containment and auxiliary areas is completed.

    Start of removal of radioactive concrete and decontamination of cavities.

    Start of surface decontamination in the containment and auxiliary buildings.

  • 2016

    Segmentation of reactor bioshield concrete.

    Decontamination of buildings.

    Installation and test of the soils clean-up facility.

  • 2017

    Buildings Decontamination.

  • 2018

    Buildings Decontamination.

    Stack Demolition.

    Final radiological disassemblies.

  • 2019

    Buildings release, decontaminations, demolitions and excavations

  • 2020

    Demolitions and excavations.

    Final Characterization.

Prior Activities

The pre-dismantling activities, carried out between 2006 and 2009 under the responsibility of the facility’s operator, consisted mainly of the management of spent fuel and the conditioning of operational waste.

After the completion of the pre-dismantling activities and the corresponding ministerial authorisation of 11 February 2010, ownership of the José Cabrera nuclear power plant was transferred to Enresa for the implementation of the Dismantling and Decommissioning Plan.

Dismantling and Decommissioning Plan

Since its shutdown in 2006, Enresa began to draft the regulatory documentation for the Dismantling and Decommissioning Plan for the José Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant. The activities to be carried out during the project and their specifics were devised in parallel.

Enresa envisages dismantling projects as an industrial process aimed at the complete release of the site and the proper management of the resulting materials.

The tasks include: the removal of conventional elements; the disassembly of radiological components; decontamination and demolition of buildings; and environmental restoration of the site.

The Dismantling and Decommissioning Plan for the José Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant prioritises the safety of the workers involved and the protection of the general public and the environment.

All activities are subject to rigorous planning and strict controls, taking into account both the occupational risks common to any conventional industry and those which are radiation-specific.

Preparatory Activities

During the initial stage, between 2010 and 2011, it was necessary to adapt some of the plant’s systems and auxiliary facilities to make them available and functional for the activities involved in dismantling.

One of the most important actions was the disassembly of the original equipment and the subsequent transformation of the turbine building into the new Auxiliary Building for Dismantling, for the treatment and temporary storage of waste from the containment building.

Various actions were carried out to reduce risks and prevent interruption in the course of future work.

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Dismantling of Conventional Components

The plant’s conventional buildings and facilities were dismantled, since they were no longer required. To date, the elements and components from the following areas have been dismantled:

  • Diesel building
  • Cooling towers
  • Electrical building and former control room
  • Electrical transformer area

Dismantling of Radiological Components

The activities involved in the dismantling of the components of the plant’s primary circuit, located inside the containment building, have differentiated this project from other previous dismantling ones.

The underwater segmentation of the reactor internals and the reactor vessel has been one of the most complex activities carried out. These operations have been undertaken in the former spent fuel pool, using remotely-operated cutting tools. The interest of the technical community has aroused because of the unique nature of these actions. Many institutions and companies, both national and international, have visited the facility to witness first-hand the progress of this work.

Capture of the underwater slice of the reactor

Similarly, distmanling of the remaining major components of the primary circuit has continued (steam generator, main pump and pressuriser). At the same time, the disused radiological equipment and systems from the different areas of the containment building and auxiliary building have been removed.

Decontamination and Demolition of Buildings

After the components are removed, the surface decontamination tasks begin on the walls and floors of the various radiological buildings. After applying the clearance methodology for surfaces, certifying the absence of residual contamination, the next step is the demolition of the various buildings and infrastructures using conventional methods.

Capture of the decontamination area

Management of Materials

Management of materials is a key activity involved in all phases of dismantling. Its focus is directed on optimising the volume of waste requiring treatment by promoting policies for waste segregation and recycling.

It is estimated that about 104,000 tonnes of materials will be managed throughout the duration of the José Cabrera nuclear power plant dismantling project. Approximately 4% of them will be classified as radioactive waste.

Conventional materials are removed and sent to the relevant specific processing plants. Similarly, very low, low and intermediate level waste is periodically sent to the disposal facility at El Cabril.

Site Restoration

In order to restore the site to its initial state, the Restoration Plan will ensure that the land to be released is free of residual radioactivity. During this final phase, site clean-up and final characterisation will be carried out before application is made for the declaration of decommissioning, with the aim of returning the site to its owner.

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© 2020 Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos, S.A., S.M.E. (Enresa).

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