Now, the final remaining pieces of the metal giants, each weighing 310 tonnes, have been smelted down at a specialist plant in Sweden – with a small quantity turned into commemorative plaques to mark completion of a project that has seen more than 4,000 tonnes of metal recycled and returned to the open market.
The project has also saved more than 5,500 cubic metres of space at the UK’s Low Level Waste Repository, where the boilers, classified as Low Level Waste (LLW), were originally scheduled for disposal.
Only 3% of secondary residues will be returned next year for final disposal at LLWR, near Drigg in Cumbria.
Simon Bedford, Magnox Project Manager, said:
“This marks the end of a huge project for Berkeley. Our aim is to reduce risk and cost associated with the Magnox decommissioning programme through innovative approaches and this was no exception. By working collaboratively with LLWR, ALE and Studsvik, we were able to achieve a very positive outcome, recycling around 95% of the boilers.”
To mark the project’s success, key individuals and stakeholders were invited to Studsvik’s nuclear licensed site in Sweden. Magnox and LLWR representatives were presented with engraved plaques made from the recycled boiler steel.
The group retraced the boilers’ Swedish journey from the harbour to the specialist large components storage hall, the cutting booth and finally the melting facility. Guests witnessed the last remaining piece of boiler being size-reduced and sectioned, then shot-blasted to remove any contamination and eventually being sent to the furnace for the final melt.
The original plan for the boilers, which dominated views around the site for many years, was to leave them outside the reactor buildings until final clearance of the site in 2074, when they would have been consigned to the LLWR. Additional NDA funding allowed early removal, and the project required extensive collaborative working.
The project won the NDA’s Collaboration Award in 2012, when it was described by the judging panel as the “largest-ever shipment of decommissioned components from a UK nuclear site”. The joint winners were: Studsvik UK Ltd, ALE Transport, LLWR with Costain, Assystem, Doosan Power Systems, Wynn & Sons, Meriaura and Oceaneering.