Last drum of uranium leaves Chapelcross

The last of more than 10,000 drums of Magnox Depleted Uranium (MDU) left Chapelcross this week, signifying the reduction of a major hazard associated with the UK’s civil nuclear legacy.

5,000 tonnes of the material, a product of reprocessing used Magnox nuclear fuel at Sellafield, was placed in interim storage at Chapelcross during the 1970s and 1980s.

The standard “oil” drums full of MDU were gradually transferred into modern stainless steel ‘overpacks’ and transported to Capenhurst, the UK’s primary uranics management facility, where all uranic material is stored. In the long term, the MDU has the potential to be re-used in the nuclear fuel cycle.

The departure of the final drum signifies the completion of this major project, which has cost £6.5 million since 2005.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Programme Director for Magnox, Sara Johnston, said:

“The transfer of MDU from Chapelcross addresses one of the major hazards that the NDA identified when it was established five years ago. We are delighted that the project has run smoothly and would like to pay tribute to the team’s hard work and commitment to achieve this milestone ahead of schedule.” 

Dave Wilson, Site Director at Chapelcross, said:

“The team have worked tirelessly to deliver this project, within budget, ahead of schedule and without a single lost time accident.”

 He added:

“By ‘overpacking’ the MDU and transporting it to a specifically designed store at Capenhurst, we have removed many of the hazards associated with this material – this is great news and it marks a huge step towards decommissioning Chapelcross Site. This may not be as high profile as the demolition of the cooling towers, or removing asbestos from the heat exchangers, but it has been a major project and we’re delighted to be able to complete it on behalf of our customer, the NDA.”