Sellafield Fuel Storage Pond Purge begins operation

A significant step forward in hazard reduction work on the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond has been taken at Sellafield with the commissioning trial of a new pond purge unit to treat radioactive pond water. 

The expected benefits are a reduction in radioactive dose rates in the immediate vicinity of the fuel storage pond, a reduction in aerial discharges to the atmosphere and reduced operator doses during fuel retrievals.

Andrew Lace, Head of First Generation Magnox Storage Pond Operations said “Operation of the new pond purge unit is an important milestone in the process to empty the pond of its radioactive inventory and to eventually decommission the building itself.

“We are delighted that the trial has now commenced and look forward to receiving and analysing the results of the trial which will hopefully be significant dose reduction benefits to the workforce”.

The First Generation Magnox Storage Pond is one of the top high hazard decommissioning projects at Sellafield. The plant received and stored irradiated fuel from Magnox reactors. It operated safely for over 30 years and the final Magnox fuel was received into the facility during 1992.

Following successful off site construction and testing of the pond purge unit in October 2009, delivery to site took place in June 2010. Getting the 8 tonne unit into place was a challenge in itself – travelling on a low loader, it had to fit under several pipebridges on the site to get to its destination. However, once in place the unit was installed by a specially modified 15 tonne telehandler.

The trial, which commenced ahead of schedule, is part of the ongoing decommissioning programme for the building. The usual purge for First Generation Magnox Storage Pond is taken from another more modern fuel storage pond – the Fuel Handling Plant (FHP) – however the trial will use a clean caustic dosed demineralised water from a newly commissioned local facility.

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