Three transport flasks, containing 76 canisters of HAW, have departed Sellafield site by rail bound for the port of Barrow-in-Furness, before being transported by sea from to Japan. The vessel that will be used will be the Pacific Grebe, owned by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL), a subsidiary of International Nuclear Services (INS).
For security reasons, the route and approximate time of arrival in Japan will be made public only after the vessel’s departure.
The waste arises from the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel at Sellafield for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Japanese customers. HAW is therefore being returned to customers in accordance with contractual obligations and UK government policy. Current UK policy states that waste arising from contracts for reprocessing signed with overseas customers since 1976 is to be returned to the customer of origin.
The transport flasks in which the HAW is contained are extremely robust and are designed, tested and modelled to exceed the very robust standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency. They weigh approximately 130 tonnes when loaded, about 90% of which is dedicated to ensuring safety, with the remainder being waste.