Nuke pumps – radioactive sludge gets £50m to speed clean-up

Radioactive sludge in a nuclear “pond” which is sixty years old could be cleaned up three years’ quicker after a new £50 million project was announced yesterday. The project will […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Radioactive sludge in a nuclear “pond” which is sixty years old could be cleaned up three years’ quicker after a new £50 million project was announced yesterday.

The project will use petrol-pump style technology to suck the waste out of a storage pond and pour it into sealed drums.

Dorothy Gradden, Head of Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) for nuclear waste firm Sellafield explained: “This sludge is similar in consistency to tomato ketchup and lies at the bottom of the seven-metre-deep pond.  We’ve already started hoovering this up and pumping it in an in-pond corral and we need the Drum Filling Plant to export the sludge for treatment.”

Sellafield’s Project Manager Chris Plane said it will be operational by mid-2015. He claimed the project will be £20 million cheaper than was originally planned.

The fuel storage pond is where waste from the Windscale reactors was stashed.

These were designed to produce nuclear materials for the defence industry rapidly and never generated electricity. They were a precursor to the Calder Hall reactor, the first commercial reactor in the world.