Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Successful start for Sellafield repackaging mission
One of the most important risk reduction tasks in the UK nuclear industry has achieved its first milestone.
Experts at Sellafield have opened and repacked a historic plutonium can for the first time.
The work is part of a £1 billion programme to address an identified degradation risk in a small proportion of the canisters, which date from about 50 years ago.
It’s painstaking and highly skilled work which requires operators to deftly manoeuvre the package inside a sealed glovebox.
The material was originally placed in an inner can which was wrapped in a plastic casing and then placed into an ‘overpack’ can – like a Russian doll.
But in a small proportion of the packages, the outer can has shown sign of degradation.
The operators’ task is to take the plastic-coated can out of the ‘overpack’, clean off as much plastic as possible and then reseal it in a modern and more robust outer can.
This is done in a sealed glovebox while the operator wears several layers of protective gloves.
James Millington, head of special nuclear materials at Sellafield Ltd, recently said:
Our teams have practised and practised the techniques using mock-up gloveboxes, so I’m delighted to see that all the preparation has paid off.
Safely getting the first package into the new outer can represents one of the most significant risk reduction milestones we’ve delivered in recent years.
Completion of the first successful repackaging kicks off a 5 year work programme.
In parallel, a new purpose-built repackaging plant is under construction which is scheduled to begin operations in the 2020s.
This will enhance the repackaging process by removing impurities in the plutonium which contribute to the degrading process.
Latest News from
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Karen Wheeler CBE announced as new Chief Executive of RWM20/01/2020 11:20:00
Karen Wheeler will oversee RWM's radioactive waste management services and the delivery of a long-term solution for the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste.
Jobs boost for Cumbria as 500 nuclear roles to be advertised via new service16/01/2020 11:15:00
A partnership between Sellafield Ltd, Jacobs, and Morgan Sindall is set to deliver job opportunities for people in Cumbria.
How much radioactive waste is there in the UK?13/01/2020 15:38:00
Blog posted by: James Woodfield, 10 January 2020 – Categories: Waste management.
Work begins on second emptying machine at Sellafield waste silo13/01/2020 11:15:00
Britain’s most hazardous nuclear building is now a step closer to being decommissioned.
2019 Inventory of UK Radioactive Waste published13/01/2020 08:12:00
The UK Radioactive Waste Inventory is the latest public record on sources, quantities and properties of radioactive waste and materials in the UK.
Chapelcross and its place in Solway Heritage05/12/2019 12:15:00
This project involved creating a permanent record of the former Chapelcross nuclear power station as an exhibition in the local Devil’s Porridge Museum. The exhibition features Chapelcross employees and its contribution to the Scottish Solway Border communities.
Barrnon and Wood move to next stage of innovation competition27/11/2019 16:24:00
Two consortia, led by Barrnon and Wood, have reached the next round of an innovation competition that could help decommission highly radioactive facilities at Sellafield.
Ruth scoops global award for work on gender inclusion07/11/2019 16:47:00
A Cumbrian communications professional has won an international prize for her work to encourage more females into the nuclear industry.