New crane supports clean up project

A new self erecting tower crane has been built at Sellafield as part of the work to retrieve historical waste from a 60-year-old silo.

The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo (PFCS) is a priority decommissioning project which contains nuclear waste that needs to be retrieved, processed and packaged.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has issued a License Instrument to start construction of the waste retrievals superstructure. The plan is to build a waste retrieval plant adjacent to the side of the existing structure. The piled foundations were completed in 2009, and the next stage is to build the superstructure and control room for the retrievals operation.

This type of self erecting tower crane has been used round the world since 2007, however its application in this specific occasion is new to Sellafield. The crane has a relatively small footprint of 4.5m by 4.5m which made it an ideal candidate given the restricted construction site available to the PFCS project. The crane stands 38m high which ensures that it clears all surrounding buildings by a considerable margin, and it has a 40m long jib which allows it to service both the retrievals and control room building. It can lift a maximum load of 6 tonnes but is limited to 2.25 tonnes on the PFCS project.

The crane arrived on the back of a lorry and took around 10 hours to become fully operational. The total weight of the crane in working order is 63 tonnes including 37 tonnes of counterweight. The cane can be erected in wind speeds up to 22mph and used for lifting operations in wind speeds up to 30mph.

Paul Nichol, PFCS facility manager: “Now that the crane is on site, its full speed ahead for the construction of the PFCS Retrieval Facility superstructure and we’ve already started installing low level rebar and structural protection.

“The job of decommissioning the PFCS poses quite a challenge and every effort is being made to accelerate the programme and empty the silo of its legacy waste.

“We’ve had people working on this since 1996 and we’ve also brought in expertise from our parent company Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) to help us come up with innovative solutions to waste retrievals.”

Retrievals modules will provide the heart of the PFCS Retrieval Facility, which include equipment for the retrieval of the wastes from the silo and its subsequent packaging into 3m3 waste boxes. The completed modules will be slotted into the skeleton superstructure in order to commence retrieval of the silo waste in 2017

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