Box project will help clean-up Sellafield

A huge procurement programme to produce thousands of high integrity stainless steel boxes to house radioactive waste at Sellafield has been launched.

Sellafield Ltd has released a pre-qualification questionnaire, a major step in the process to find two manufacturers for an initial quantity of 2,200 three metre cubed boxes to store waste retrieved from the historic ponds and silos at the Cumbrian nuclear site.

The Government is encouraging local suppliers to bid for the contract, which has the potential to span decades, in the hope the work can be kept in the UK and contribute to local economic growth.

The procurement of this contract is being supported by the Cabinet Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, underlining both its strategic importance for the clean-up of Sellafield and its wider socio-economic benefits. Baroness Verma , DECC Minister with responsibility for nuclear decommissioning, said “The NDA and its site licence company Sellafield Ltd are responsible for tackling the high hazard facilities on the site robustly and effectively.

“In doing so they need to ensure that the skills base is maintained in Cumbria to ensure the mission, which will take many years, can be fulfilled.

“Local supply of strategic items such as these boxes will help maintain skills and ensure security of supply.

“This procurement has the potential to deliver on all these fronts, whilst also delivering socio-economic benefits to local communities.”

Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith welcomed the procurement as an example of the Cabinet Office’s strategy to use reform, including effective pre-market engagement, in this area to deliver growth.

She said: “Procurement reform is about maximising UK potential and growth whilst achieving value for money. It is essential that we grasp the wider opportunities that this type of project provides to support UK industry as it competes in the global race. I am pleased with the proactive approach taken by our colleagues within the nuclear industry and hope that UK suppliers will see this as a great chance to invest in delivering high quality, high value capability against a potential demand spanning decades.”

John Clarke, chief executive of the NDA, said: “This programme is one of our most important and one which will continue to attract our attention until the waste within these facilities is repackaged for long term storage.

“These boxes are a critical enabler and it is vital that they are manufactured to a high standard, are delivered to time and are affordable and represent good value for money.

“I’m pleased with the approach taken by Sellafield Ltd and would encourage manufacturers to recognise the wider potential of working in local communities close to their customers.”

Tony Price, managing director of Sellafield Ltd, said: “Sellafield Ltd continually strives to ensure our investment in education, skills and infrastructure is felt in west Cumbria and the wider UK economy.

“We recognise that how we work with our supply chain can and should play a fundamental part in supporting socio-economic growth and ensuring that we remain the backbone of the community.

“By running a procurement which includes measurable socio-economic expectations right from the start we will be better placed to ensure that we add as much value as we can in this area, whilst still delivering on what is a vital decommissioning programme.”