VIDEO: See inside world's oldest nuclear waste store at Sellafield
THE oldest nuclear waste store in the world has been opened for the first time.
The first hole has been cut into the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield, a locked vault designed to never be opened.
It is the first of six holes to allow the removal of radioactive waste from the site's most hazardous buildings.
Steven Carroll, head of the PFCS, said: "I am incredibly proud of the work that our Sellafield and supply chain teams have achieved together, in preparing the silo for successful waste retrievals.
"The level of challenge involved with this facility is unparalleled, considering the age of the building, the lack of historical information about the waste itself, the argon atmospherics, and its position on one of the most congested footprints of any site, anywhere in the world.
"Despite this, the teams have carried out some world class engineering in difficult environments to get us closer to getting the waste out and into safer storage, earlier than planned."
Plans for the removal have been in place for a number of years, with practice cutting operations taking place at a full-scale replica test rig in Rosyth, Scotland.
The silo was built in the 1950s when the site's purpose was to make material for nuclear weapons.
Safely decommissioning the building is said to be one of the highest priorities for Sellafield and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.