The decommissioning of one of Sellafield’s most hazardous buildings has taken a huge step forward with the arrival of a machine that will scoop out its radioactive contents.
The Silo Emptying Plant – a kind of giant fairground grabber machine on wheels – will painstakingly remove waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS), an aging storage plant prioritised for clean-up by the site’s owners, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
This nationally important decommissioning challenge is just part of the UK nuclear story being explored in an ‘access all areas’ BBC 4 documentary, ‘Inside Sellafield’ to be broadcast on Monday 10th August at 9pm.
In the coming months, the Silo Emptying plant will arrive in 33 separate deliveries, brought by road from Wolverhampton to the Sellafield site where the bespoke machine will be assembled by nuclear experts.
This is the first of three plants of its kind to arrive in West Cumbria and marks an important step forward in the decommissioning programme at Sellafield. The removal of decades-old material from the legacy plants is taking place on a daily basis, significantly reducing the risk and hazard on the site.
The Silo Emptying Plant (SEP), is essentially a huge grabbing machine which will run on rails above the waste compartments. It has been developed specifically to deal with historical nuclear waste from the MSSS, which contains a quarter of Sellafield Ltd’s intermediate level waste inventory.
It will lock onto the silo hatches, lower specialist grabs into the 16-metre-deep waste compartments to bring up the waste, pack it into nuclear boxes and safely transfer it to one of the site’s modern stores where it will be kept safe and secure until a decision has been made on a long term storage solution.
The three plants were developed with Ansaldo NES, who successfully tested and dismantled them within a replica of the MSSS store at their factory in the midlands. Each weighs more than 30 double decker buses and will be re-assembled and re-tested at Sellafield before waste retrieval operations begin at the silo.
“The SEP design is complex, it has to be to deal with the significant challenge of retrieving wastes from MSSS, but is based on simple, robust concepts.” Alan Haile, head of MSSS projects said.
“Think of one of those fairground machines with a metal arm that struggles to grab soft toys, but imagine it on a huge scale within a radioactive environment, grabbing huge volumes of potentially hazardous material with absolute precision from 22 underwater compartments and transferring into safe storage, with no room for error.”
The SEP machines will have to operate in a radioactive environment where operator access is restricted due to the radiation levels and are therefore heavily shielded. They will play a vital part in the Sellafield clean-up, with an estimated 11,000m3 of historic waste and 60,000 items of Miscellaneous Beta Gamma Waste to be removed from the 22 underwater MSSS compartments.
Sellafield Ltd is making significant progress in cleaning up the UK’s nuclear legacy, having recently began removing sludge from the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond and the dismantling of ‘Cockcroft’s Folly’ at the top of the Windscale pile chimney, marking a significant change to the Sellafield skyline.
Source: Nuclear Matters
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry
Image: Sellafield nuclear plant is seen on February 24, 2005, in Sellafield, England. On March 17, 2011
Cameras are being allowed behind the scenes at the Sellafield nuclear power plant as part of a season of TV shows exploring the atomic age.
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry.
He said: “As a nuclear physicist, I found gaining such amazing access to somewhere as huge and important as Sellafield a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Little is known about Britain’s nuclear industry so it’s no wonder that the general public have tended to be so suspicious of it, sometimes with good reason.
“So telling the story of Britain’s nuclear history, both the past failures and the recent successes, is vital.”
The show, part of the BBC Four Goes Nuclear season, promises “unprecedented access to some of the country’s most secret buildings” and examination of incidents including the 1957 fire at the site and subsequent controversy over radioactive leaks.
Other programmes include a Storyville documentary about the atomic age using archive footage and complete with a score by Mogwai and a film about the men and women who built the first atomic bomb in the dying days of World War Two.
Image: Professor Jim Al-Khalili getting ready to split the atom
BBC Four’s channel editor Cassian Harrison said: “BBC Four Goes Nuclear will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age.
“We have unique access to Britain’s most renowned nuclear facility with the documentary Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, alongside other captivating new and archive programmes for the channel.
“BBC Four Goes Nuclear will consider the nuclear age from all sides – its ground-breaking opportunities as well as its terrifying dangers.”
Power station near Sellafield will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Image: Existing power station: Sellafield nuclear plant
The site of a new £10billion power plant in Britain has been confirmed, creating up to 21,000 jobs.
A deal to secure the land needed was completed to pave the way for Europe’s biggest new nuclear project.
Venture group Nugen paid an undisclosed sum for the site at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria.
It will see three nuclear reactors constructed on the land which was owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The sale follows months of tests to ensure the area is suitable.
The three Westinghouse reactors planned will have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts, almost seven per cent of the UK’s total electricity needs.
Each of the reactors will take about four years to build, and a small town of 4,000 new homes will be needed for the huge workforce.
It will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Much of the material required will be carried to the site by sea.
The new workers’ town will feature sustainable homes, remaining in place after the development is completed to provide social housing, a key need in Cumbria.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses.”
Copeland MP Jamie Reed also welcomed the move, saying: “We have lobbied long and hard for new nuclear build to complement the array of world-class nuclear skills we already have here.”
The development is expected to generate up to 21,000 jobs during its lifetime.
Early building work will start in 2017 with a target date of 2024 for the first of three reactors starting to produce power. The other two would follow in 2025 and 2026.
Peak employment will be during the key construction phase in 2022-2024, when about 6,000 people will be involved. During operation, Moorside will directly employ more than 1,000 people.
Developers are set to build a new railway station at Mirehouse, running into the construction site.
A marine off-loading dock for materials brought in by sea is also possible.
Sequencing centres for lorries will aim to keep heavy vehicles off the nearby A595 at peak times.
Nugen chief executive Tom Samson said: “This is great news for the North West and particularly for West Cumbria, the UK’s nuclear heartland.
“We are delighted to be taking forward Moorside, a massive development which will supply some seven per cent of the UK’s future electricity.”
John Clarke, CEO of the NDA, said: “The completion of the land sale supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognised as a centre of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, whilst delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy.”
Some question marks remain about how the project will be funded.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether government support for the planned new £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset breaches EU rules.
The government sees a new generation of nuclear plants as key to our future energy needs.
But anti-nuclear campaigners warned the new project would make the area a terrorist target.
Radiation Free Lakeland’s Marianne Birkby said the land next to Sellafield was originally designated as a ‘buffer zone’ to prevent further development.
She said: “The land acquired was bought out of the public purse as a buffer zone around Sellafield to ensure that there would be no new hazardous development or population increase.
“Protections have been ditched to accommodate the nuclear industry and our nuclear-obsessed government who plan to double the terrorist target of with nuclear sprawl on green fields adjacent to a flood plain.
“The only protections now are for the nuclear industry at the expense of Cumbria and the wider environment. What other industry would be allowed to operate with nominal public liability in the event of contamination accident?”
Sellafield Ltd is to support a new world-class training facility, the National College for Nuclear (NCfN), to make Cumbria the UK’s centre for nuclear excellence.
The company, along with EDF Energy, is set to invest in the Government’s new National College for Nuclear, allowing staff and subject matter experts to combine their enthusiasm and expertise to make learning in the college relevant and realistic.
As part of Sellafield Ltd’s commitment to investing in the skills and development of the next generation of nuclear workers, representatives from the company will deliver specialist vocational training to the West Cumbrian branch of the college to help meet the present and future skills needs of the UK’s nuclear industry.
Funding for two nuclear hubs in West Cumbria and Somerset will come from a grant committed by the Government.
Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “It’s expected the nuclear industry will need 30,000 new employees over the next decade – and the Nuclear College will equip young people with the skills they need.
“Creating jobs and opportunities for local people is front and centre of our long term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.”
Sellafield Ltd Human Resources Director, Colin Reed, is the NCfN shadow board Chair. He said: “Sellafield Ltd is delighted to be part of the National College for Nuclear. The NDA and Sellafield Ltd are making substantial investments to grow the economy and develop West Cumbria as a global centre of nuclear excellence.
“The college will provide a source of qualification and curriculum development to feed the skills pipelines for the nuclear sector and its supply chain.”
Sellafield Ltd will work with local educational providers such as Lakes College and the University of Cumbria to develop the college’s qualifications and curriculum.
Colin said: “The focus will be on higher level vocational skills development and education in core engineering disciplines that will be most relevant for the nuclear industry and its supply chain.”
One of Sellafield Ltd’s most important investments is in the skills and development of the next generation of nuclear professionals; the company is dedicated to supporting local facilities such as the NCfN which provide education and training opportunities that will help meet the future skills requirement of the nuclear sector.
Dave Swindle, Chairman of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP): “This is fantastic news. Skills and training are major factors in realising West Cumbria’s potential to be the UK’s centre for nuclear excellence.
“The college will be a significant addition to the existing training facilities, brought about by investment from organisations like NMP, Sellafield Ltd and the NDA, to develop the next generation of nuclear experts.”
Source: Nuclear Matters
British Skills Minister praises Sellafield Ltd, the company responsible for cleaning up and decommissioning Europe’s most complex nuclear site, for leading the way with a new ‘one of a kind’ nuclear apprenticeship.
Following the government’s announcement that apprenticeships are to be reformed to meet the needs of British employers, Sellafield Ltd has been working alongside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN) and Cogent Sector Skills Council, to develop new and improved apprenticeships, including a new Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician apprenticeship, as part of the company’s world-class training programme.
Known as the ‘Trailblazer project’, Sellafield Ltd has joined employers from across the country in reachingPhase 3 of the BIS initiative, which will give British businesses an opportunity to develop new apprenticeship standards, dictating the content and method of assessments involved.
Sellafield Ltd, a Nuclear Management Partners’ company, has successfully gained approval for three of its apprenticeship programmes: nuclear worker (Plant Process and Decommissioning Operatives), Health Physics Monitor and Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician, a new apprenticeship for 2015.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “I congratulate Sellafield Ltd for the key role it is playing in developing new top-quality apprenticeships.
“Through the trailblazers initiative companies like Sellafield Ltd, in collaboration with their industry partners, will give people the skills they need to thrive and our businesses need to compete.”
Head of Education & Skills at Sellafield Ltd, Les Agnew, said: “One of Sellafield Ltd’s most important investments is the skills and development of the next generation of professionals and this is why we take such pride in having one of the most reputable apprentice schemes in the UK.
“When the Government reform of apprenticeships were announced it was appropriate for Sellafield Ltd to take the lead for the nuclear sector, in the reform trailblazer process. Together with 15 other employers and a range of skills bodies, Sellafield Ltd has agreed to work with Government to set new apprentice standards for, Nuclear Worker, Health Physics Monitor and a new apprenticeship; Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician.
“Employer leadership will ensure that these apprenticeships meet our needs and provide the required standards for a successful career in the nuclear sector.”
The Nuclear Trailblazer Group will be chaired by Ken McEwan, Head of Training at Sellafield Ltd, and will consist of representatives from across the nuclear industry such as Site License Companies, Supply Chain Companies and Professional Industry bodies, who will all participate in the apprenticeships development and subsequent implementation.
For more information please see the full press release.
A new storage facility designed to keep nuclear waste safe and secure has been completed by Sellafield Ltd.
The Encapsulated Product Store 3 (EPS3) in Cumbria, which contains more than 32,000 cubic metres of concrete and 7,300 tonnes of steel, is capable of storing 29,000 waste drums.
Pete Lutwyche, Sellafield Programme Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said the completion of EPS 3 marks a “major milestone” in the decommissioning of Sellafield.
He added: “This facility is a key piece in the jigsaw of projects we need to clean up the most hazardous areas of the site – the NDA’s number one priority task.
“Once opened, the building will provide world-class, modern storage of waste for many years to come, pending its ultimate transfer to the safest and most secure method of dealing with this material – disposal in a deep geological facility.”
Last month Sellafield said it is looking for specialist suppliers to help with cleaning up and decommissioning the nuclear site.
Source: Energy Live News