Nuclear fuel has been extracted from a Pile Fuel Storage Pond, the world’s largest, at Sellafield yesterday. The programme is five years ahead of schedule and is seen by some as a statement of intent for Sellafield’s decommissioning plans.
Jim French, Nuclear Management Partners’ Executive Decommissioning Director said: “Our original timescale was to start retrieving this fuel in 2016, however we’ve been able to bring this forward by concentrating significant resources and technical expertise on this priority project. This achievement underpins our commitment to accelerating the decommissioning of our high hazard projects at Sellafield.”
It’s the first time since 1964 that nuclear fuel has been moved. There are around 50 skips, containing 6-12 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel, to be exported from the legacy pond. The PFSP is one of four facilities at Sellafield identified as the top priority for risk and hazard reduction in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s strategy to accelerate the decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear legacy.
The PFSP contains over 15,000m3 of radioactive water, more than 300m3 sludge, as well as various nuclear wastes and legacy spent nuclear fuel.
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