£6.5M contract on sludge packaging plant

Sellafield Ltd has awarded NuVision Engineering a £6.5 million development contract to test a sludge mobilisation system to be installed in the new Sludge Packaging Plant 1 (SPP1) currently under construction.

Dorothy Gradden, head of projects sludge retrieval and processing, said: “This is a very important project and we’re delighted to have NuVision Engineering on board. The new SPP1 Plant is a critical project to decommission one of the legacy plants that Sellafield Ltd is committed to cleaning up in the earliest possible timescales.

“Sellafield Ltd is working with external suppliers to come up with innovative ways of decommissioning historical plants. This NuVision Engineering contract will involve designing a process, which will be tested in scale test rigs over a two year period and will be installed in the SPP1 plant.

“We are confident that NuVision’s pulse jet mixers will effectively mobilise the radioactive sludge which is inherently hazardous and has historically been one of the main obstacles to emptying this legacy fuel pond.”

The SPP1 is being built to hydraulically receive over 1200m3 – that’s equivalent to a half full Olympic sized swimming pool – of legacy sludge from the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP).

The FGMSP 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 in 1992.

SPP1 is a key risk reduction project for the FGMSP. It will comprise three stainless steel buffer storage vessels to contain the sludge, to allow it to decant and settle. This will, in the future, enable the sludge to be properly processed and disposed of.

Site clearance for SPP1 began in November 2005 and required the removal of a number of redundant facilities. In 2007 a perimeter fence was erected around the site to move it out of the Separation Area and improve accessibility for construction. In 2008 the first concrete pour took place and the main civil build is forecast to be complete by Sep 2011 with closure of tank access openings by Sep 2012.

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