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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sludge plant solution saves taxpayer £50m

A NEW plant to be built at Sellafield will provide over £50m savings to the taxpayer, says its project manager.

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Dorothy Gradden

The Drum Filling Plant, which will be constructed by Nuvia, will be operational by mid-2015 and will accelerate the retrieval of radioactive sludge from the Windscale fuel storage pond by more than three years.

Using a petrol-pump style design, the DFP will export sludge from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond at a fraction of the estimated cost.

The PFSP was the first nuclear fuel storage pond constructed at Sellafield in 1948 and is the world’s largest open air nuclear storage pond. It is currently being decommissioned.

Dorothy Gradden, head of PFSP, said: “This poses one of the most challenging decommissioning projects on site.

“The plan is to decommission and empty the PFSP to make this historic plant safer sooner.

“However, before the pond water can be drained, the radioactive sludge has to be removed.

“This sludge is similar in consistency to tomato ketchup and lies at the bottom of the 7m deep pond.

“We’ve already started removing this and pumping it in an in-pond corral and we need the DFP to export the sludge for treatment.”

The pond stored nuclear fuel and isotopes from the Windscale reactors.

Project manager Chris Plane said: “The DFP provides a cost-effective solution, saving the UK taxpayer money and reducing the sludge hazard.

“The original planned encapsulation export facility was estimated to cost well over £70m, but we’ve come up with some innovative ideas using technology borrowed from other industries and will build a fit-for-purpose plant which is simpler and will cost around £20m.”

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