One of the largest hazard reduction projects ever undertaken at the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning site has finished its preliminary stages.
This involved six car-size holes being cut in the site’s oldest radioactive waste storage facility, followed by airtight doors being installed in preparation for its robotic clean-out.
The milestone means Sellafield and its supply chain partners, Bechtel and Cavendish Nuclear, can now enter the next phase of the project – manufacturing, installation and commissioning the equipment to enter the silo and retrieve the waste inside the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo.
The waste inside the silo is stored in argon gas to reduce the risk of combustion – as the structure was cut open, slices were backfilled with expanding foam to prevent this escaping – it was successful and no radioactivity was released during the operation.
Head of the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo programme Steven Carroll said: “It’s an early Christmas present to complete the work three months early and under budget.
“Getting access to this nuclear waste store which was built with no thought to how it would be emptied has been an incredible engineering challenge, involving years of planning and preparation, hundreds of dedicated people and many millions pounds of investment.”