Some 42 redundant Magnox skips have been saved from being broken up at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Chapelcross site and are instead being transported to Sellafield to be used for shipping waste out of the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP).
PFSP waste manager Chris Mounsey came up with the money-saving idea and explained: “I got talking to colleagues at Chapelcross, who used these large metal storage boxes to store nuclear fuel underwater at their Scottish nuclear station. Earlier this year, they finished defuelling their reactors and no longer need their Magnox fuel skips, which seemed like a good opportunity for us.
“At Sellafield, we’re working to recover 750 tonnes of radioactive metal wastes from the PFSP and need Magnox skips to firstly store and then to move the waste out of our historic fuel storage pond to downstream treatment plants.
“In the past, we’ve ordered in brand new Magnox skips which were expensive at almost £14,000 each or we’ve sourced them from elsewhere on the Sellafield site, but we couldn’t get them in the timescales needed. So Chapelcross provided the ideal solution – they wanted to dispose of their skips and we wanted a cheaper source of skips – it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Sellafield Ltd has saved over £580,000 by re-using the Magnox skips from Chapelcross and Magnox Ltd has saved significant monies by avoiding dismantling, transport and disposal costs bringing the total saving to over £1,000,000.
Dorothy Gradden, head of PFSP said: “This is a fantastic example of innovative thinking from the PFSP workforce. We’re totally committed to accelerating decommissioning of the PFPS and we need to do this as cost effectively as possible, recognising the fact that we need to provide value for money for the taxpayer. Saving £1 million on this project will mean the money can be spent elsewhere on the high priority decommissioning projects across the NDA estate.”
Mark Steele, the NDA’s head of programme for Sellafield, said: “It’s very pleasing to see collaboration across the NDA estate delivering significant savings for the UK taxpayer while also ensuring we get on with the task of cleaning up Sellafield’s high hazard facilities.
“Not only does this reduce the costs associated with manufacturing new skips, it also cuts down on the amount of waste we will eventually need to dispose of. It’s vitally important we share knowledge and best practice across the NDA estate to reduce costs and accelerate our mission to clean-up the UK’s nuclear legacy.”
The first 20 skips have already been delivered to Sellafield from Chapelcross and will start to be filled with radioactive wastes in the next few weeks.