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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Landmark for Sellafield Ltd at world’s biggest open-air nuclear store

SELLAFIELD Ltd workers have safely removed 100 hundred tonnes of redundant contaminated equipment – the equivalent of a blue whale – from the world’s oldest storage pond.

By Lucy Grosvenor

The 60-year old open air fuel pond has to be emptied carefully as part of a plan to clean up and decommission the nuclear facilities.

There is 650 tonnes of waste to remove from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) but the removal of the milestone 100 tonnes signifies progress in the project.

Derek Carlisle, PFSP head of projects, said: “Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate the decommissioning progress being made, because by the very nature of what we are doing things can take a long time and seem to cost a lot of money.

“100 tonnes of equipment really does give you some scale as to the difficulty in removing that much mass from the biggest, and one of the oldest, nuclear storage ponds in the world.”

The PFSP was the first nuclear fuel storage pond constructed at Sellafield. Construction started in 1948 and the pond was commissioned and started to receive fuel in 1952. The storage pond stopped receiving fuel in the 1970s.

Mr Carlisle added: “The 100 tonnes of contaminated metal we have removed so far has been cleaned up for disposal in the national Low Level Waste Repository near Drigg.”

Dorothy Gradden, head of programme delivery in the Pile Fuel Storage Pond, said: “The oldest plants at Sellafield were built in a time before computers existed and with little thought given to how they would be decommissioned.

“When working with a facility as old as this, issues can and do arise which mean that carefully laid plans and schedules need to be changed – and this happened frequently for us and the operations team has developed additional skills to meet all new challenges.”

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