Step forward in sludge retrieval

Progress to deal with radioactive sludge in the Sellafield 60-year-old Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) has been impressive, with several milestones recently achieved.

Dorothy Gradden, head of programme delivery, PFSP said: “With over 500,000 man hours and nearly 2 years without a lost time accident, the PFSP team has shown their commitment to safely deliver accelerated retrieval from one of the oldest facilities on the site.

“The progress that they have made this year is truly remarkable and they continue to develop innovative approaches for dealing with the challenges of an old facility.”

Construction of the new Local Sludge Treatment Plant (LSTP) has recently been completed. Radioactive sludge will be pumped to the Local Sludge Treatment Plant (LSTP) for processing and onward transfer to a drum filling plant.

The LSTP comprises an overbuilding containing four secondary containment cells, a processing module and three buffer storage tanks which are available for the safe interim storage of radioactive sludge should the overall desludging programme require buffer storage.

Radioactive sludge retrieval from the pond is ongoing with some 12m3 removed to the in-pond corral and 8 of the 12 bays cleared. A machine known as the Sludge Retrieval hood has been specially designed and built for the job of sucking up sludge from the 6m deep pond.

PFSP strategy & technical manager Steve Cottam said: “We expect the very first sludge to be transferred from the pond in 2013. This will mean the hazard reduction profile associated with the sludge will start to reduce significantly.”

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