One hundred tonnes of contaminated metal – equivalent in weight to an average blue whale or a Boeing 757 – has been retrieved from the 60-year-old Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) as part of the Sellafield decommissioning programme.
There’s 750 tonnes of contaminated metal to be retrieved from the legacy facility and 100 tonnes have now been successfully removed.
Derek Carlisle, PFSP head of projects said: “I was reflecting on the achievement of removing 100 tonnes of waste from the pond and wondered what interesting things also weigh 100 tonnes as a comparison. Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate the decommissioning progress being made, but comparing with something else so massive really does bring this achievement to life”.
The PFSP was the very first nuclear fuel storage pond constructed at Sellafield and to this day remains the largest open air nuclear storage pond in the world at 100 metres long.
Dorothy Gradden, PFSP head of programme delivery said: “When you are decommissioning a facility as old as this, issues can and do arise which mean that carefully laid plans and schedules need to be changed – and this happened frequently for us and the operations team has developed additional new skills to meet all new challenges.”
All of the contaminated metal waste has been cleaned up for disposal in the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg.
Highlights in the retrievals programme to date include:
- Removal of the very last remaining pile fuel decanner, weighing in at over one tonne.
- Recovery of two tall tools or masts – similar in height to an average two-storey house – lifted from the pond and size reduced in situ.
- Eight of the 30 waste and transport flasks recovered each weighing 2-3 tonnes.
- Stripping out and export of redundant metal structures above and below the water line in the pond bays.