This is the fourth and largest such shipment from the UK demonstrating excellent progress in the programme to return foreign-owned waste stored in the UK to its country of origin. Overall it is the sixteenth shipment of its type from Europe to Japan since 1995.
Five transport flasks containing a total of 132 canisters will be transported by rail from Sellafield to Barrow-in-Furness over the next two days. They will be loaded on to the Pacific Grebe, a purpose-built nuclear cargo vessel, after which they will be shipped to Japan. The route to Japan will be announced after the vessel departs the UK but, as always, the vessel does not plan to stop at any country on the way, nor enter any other state’s territorial waters.
Will Watson, Sellafield Ltd’s Vitrified Residue Returns Programme manager said: “This is the fourth highly active waste return from Sellafield to Japan. The Vitrified Residue Returns Programme is a highly complex programme which involves several departments within Sellafield Ltd and International Nuclear Services. This return, the largest yet from the UK, is a credit to the dedication and professionalism of all involved.”
The programme is called the Vitrified Residue Returns, a key component of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s strategy to clean up the Sellafield site, fulfil contracts with overseas customers and deliver UK government policy.
Vitrified residue describes the physical form of the highly active waste. It is a solution of radioactive waste and molten glass that is mixed in a stainless steel canister and allowed to cool to form an impermeable, immobile and insoluble glass block. It is an ideal form for transporting and up to 28 of these canisters are put into a 120 tonne extremely robust transport flask, 90 percent of which by weight is devoted to radiation shielding to make it safe to transport.
All transport safety and security arrangements comply with national and international regulations and guidelines.