Ministers view Sellafield progress

Energy Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe and Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP at Sellafield
Energy Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe and Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP at Sellafield

New Energy Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP have visited the Sellafield site to view progress that has been made on decommissioning and hazard reduction at the site.

The Ministers saw first-hand the progress being made in the decommissioning programme and praised Sellafield Ltd’s highly skilled staff on her first visit to the site.

The pair were shown three of the ‘big four’ historic waste facilities prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, collectively known as the ‘legacy ponds and silos’.

The visit came in the same week that Sellafield took a giant leap forward in the decommissioning of these historic waste stores – Pile Fuel Cladding Silo – following the arrival of six huge steel doors which will help unlock its radioactive contents (see previous Nuclear Matters article).

Baroness Neville-Rolfe spent two days in Cumbria, learning how the county is developing into the UK’s Centre of Nuclear Excellence.

“I am hugely impressed with the dedication and professionalism of Sellafield’s world-class workforce, who are dealing with some of the most complex technical challenges in the world”, she said.

“Most importantly, they are carrying out their work in the safest possible way, with the protection of the community as their overriding priority.”

“The skills and knowledge being developed at Sellafield are an important asset to the UK.”

The Energy Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury were also shown the Silo Emptying Plant (SEP) machine which will be used to remove the radioactive contents of another of the site’s most hazardous buildings – the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo.

The mammoth machine, weighing in at 400 tonnes, is one of three robotic retrieval systems that will lift waste out of the building.

They were accompanied on the visit by NDA Chief Operating Officer Pete Lutwyche, the Authority’s Chairman Stephen Henwood and Sellafield Ltd Managing Director Paul Foster.

Mr Foster said: “I was delighted to be able to show the Ministers how we are responding to Sellafield’s unique challenges.

“We are committed to ensuring the investment the Government makes in Sellafield generates a return through the development of skills and capability that put the UK at the forefront of the nuclear decommissioning industry.”