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Capenhurst Nuclear

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Urenco UK Ltd

  • Operator/Licensee: Urenco UK Ltd

  • Type of site: Operational, chemical plant and other facilities

  • Location: Capenhurst, Cheshire


The Urenco UK Ltd Capenhurst site is located approximately 10km to the north of Chester. The licence holder is Urenco UK Ltd. Following completion of the site integration project and a new site licence in November 2012, the former Sellafield limited Capenhurst site was integrated into the enlarged Urenco UK Ltd site. The site contains several facilities, which comprise:

  • Three enrichment plants, which enable nuclear power stations around the world to generate electricity. The largest of the three plants, E23, produces more than 80% of the facility’s enrichment capacity.

  • Cylinder storage rafts and Container Receipt and Dispatch (CRD) building.

  • Other support facilities include workshops, uranium residues stores, chemical laboratories, fire stations, and the site emergency control centre.

  • A tenant organisation, Urenco ChemPlants Limited, operates a Tails Management Facility (TMF). The process plants within the Tails Management Facility will convert depleted uranium hexafluoride, UF6 "Hex Tails" to the lower hazard U3O8 material for long term storage. "Hex Tails" arising from Capenhurst and Urenco facilities in Holland and Germany will be processed at Capenhurst in the TMF, with U3O8 being returned to Holland and Germany.

  • A tenant organisation, Urenco Nuclear Services Limited, will continue the mission of the former Sellafield Limited Capenhurst licensed site, receiving and storing uranium oxide and storing UF6 "Hex Tails", pending treatment in the TMF facility. Decommissioning and solid waste disposals will continue on this part of the site.

Located in Capenhurst, Urenco UK operates three enrichment plants, which enable nuclear power stations worldwide to generate electricity. The largest of the three plants, E23, produces more than 80% of the facility’s enrichment capacity.


Urenco UK is one of Urenco’s first enrichment facilities and their enrichment facility in the Netherlands, Urenco Nederland. Since 1973, they have used centrifuge technology designed and deployed by Urenco to enrich uranium. In 1975, Urenco delivered its first SWU contract from pilot plant production in Urenco UK and Urenco Nederland. In 1977, their first commercial-scale plant at Urenco UK was formally installed.

Urenco UK has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Urenco Limited since 1993, following a restructuring of the Urenco organisation.

Socio-economic impact analysis

In 2018, the University of Central Lancashire carried out a socio-economic impact analysis of Urenco’s UK enrichment facility and global head office located close to London in the UK. It stated that:

“The greatest contribution made by Urenco, in terms of supplier spend, salaries, workforce and new facility development, is clearly concentrated in the North West and North Wales. The region is home to the UK civil nuclear industry and the emerging ‘Nuclear Arc’. From Sellafield to Wylfa, Urenco remains a significant presence and contributor of substantial value to the region and industry.”

Enrichment services and fuel cycle products

URENCO Limited provide safe, cost-effective and reliable uranium enrichment services and fuel cycle products for power generation within a framework of high environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance standards.

Their customers typically supply them with natural uranium, uranium hexafluoride, which we then enrich to international specifications, using centrifuge technology designed and deployed by Urenco. Through the flexible operation of this technology, they can also provide products and services beyond enrichment.

Urenco Nuclear Stewardship has a leading role in providing responsible stewardship of nuclear materials through waste management, long term storage and decommissioning services. They are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Urenco, joining the established Urenco group in 2012, a crucial part of the global nuclear industry for over 50 years.

Their workforce has demonstrable experience providing end-of-lifecycle management solutions for the nuclear industry, developed through many years of decommissioning the UK’s nuclear legacies on the Capenhurst Nuclear Licensed Site and ongoing operational waste management for their sister companies, Urenco UK and Urenco ChemPlants.


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Recommended Reading (or listening): Atomic Habits by James Clear