Nuclear Jobs

August 29, 2014

Final fuel removed from Sizewell A

Author: Admin - Categories: decc, decommissioning, Magnox, Sizewell

Sizewell-Flask-15-300x200The removal of more than 52,000 fuel elements from the two reactors at Sizewell A in Suffolk has been successfully completed ahead of a target set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). It is the first time that the site has been fuel-free in almost half a century marking the biggest milestone since the end of generation in 2006.

Tim Watkins, Site Director, said: “Every member of the Sizewell A team has demonstrated determination and pride as they’ve safely progressed defuelling during the last few years to reach this historic moment. It’s another success to add to an impressive record including 40 years of electricity generation. “

Regulators will now complete a process that should verify fuel free status later this year – confirming that more than 99 per cent of the radioactive hazard has been removed from the site. The spent fuel has been sent to Sellafield in Cumbria where it will be reprocessed.

Dr Brian Burnett, NDA Head of Programmes, said: “To have dispatched the last fuel flask from the site some seven weeks ahead of the DECC target is a fantastic achievement and testament to the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the team at Sizewell A.  I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who has been involved in achieving this important milestone.”

Neil Baldwin, Magnox Managing Director, added: “ To safely deliver this milestone ahead of schedule is a fantastic achievement and I congratulate everyone involved. Reducing hazard is at the core of our mission and this is yet another great example of doing just that. We have now removed the spent fuel legacy from eight of the ten Magnox sites.”

Attention now turns to a period of focused decommissioning where waste will be recovered and treated, while redundant machinery will be removed and non-essential buildings will be demolished.


First nuclear analysis laboratory to be built using modular construction is handed over at Dounreay

Author: Admin - Categories: Dounreay - Tags:

Dounreay siteThe first nuclear facility of its kind to be built using modular construction has been handed over and is now undergoing active commissioning at Dounreay.

The laboratory for the analysis of radioactive materials was constructed using a Yorkon off-site building solution from the Portakabin Group, and is one of the most complex and remote modular building projects ever undertaken in the UK.

The contract for the £9m building was awarded by DSRL to a team led by off-site manufacturer and main contractor, the Portakabin Group.

The 1,300sqm building was manufactured off site at the Portakabin Group production centre in York and craned into position in only four days to minimise disruption to operations at Dounreay.

It provides six laboratories to allow DSRL to comply with its statutory and environmental monitoring requirements and will remain in use for up to 25 years until the site decommissioning process has been completed. It will then be deconstructed – the building modules are inherently easy to disassemble, recycle and re-use elsewhere, making the approach highly sustainable.

Its facilities include the laboratories, offices, drench showers and boot barrier in the active area, with ancillary accommodation for offices and locker rooms in the clean area.

The Dounreay scheme has been designed in full compliance with stringent nuclear industry requirements and regulations for ionising radiation and to withstand the rigours of a highly exposed marine environment.



New Waste Store at Sellafield

Author: Admin - Categories: sellafield, waste management
An official opening event marked an important step for waste storage at Sellafield

An official opening event marked an important step for waste storage at Sellafield

Sellafield Ltd has marked the completion of a new state of the art storage facility that will keep nuclear waste safe and secure for many years to come.

The Encapsulated Product Store 3 (EPS3) is the latest addition to the suite of facilities designed to store Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) in purpose built above ground storage buildings on the Sellafield site.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the completion of the facility, Sellafield Ltd’s Ewan Smith said: “Over the course of this project the efforts of many people, from many different disciplines and companies have been required. At the peak well over 200 people were working on the project and it is to their credit that we have delivered the project safely and to a high standard of quality.

“We have achieved an exemplary safety record – with over 8 years of construction work, that’s more than 2 million hours, without a reportable injury. This hasn’t just benefited the project, but the community too, as the construction team has donated over £30,000 to 80 West Cumbrian charities as a result of this excellent safety record.

“It is now with great pleasure that we hand over the facility to the operations team who will ensure that it does what it is required to do”.

The modern store contains over 32,000 cubic metres of concrete and 7,300 tonnes of reinforcing steel and represents the very latest generation in nuclear waste storage, design and construction. It is capable of storing over 29,000 waste drums.

Steve Bostock, Director Spent Fuel Management said: “EPS3 will receive ILW arising from the sites continuing reprocessing and high hazard removal operations, as part of decommissioning a number of priority facilities. The team is now excited about operating this new facility to enable continued safe and secure storage of ILW on the Sellafield site”.

Pete Lutwyche, Sellafield programme Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), added: “The completion of EPS 3 marks a major milestone in the decommissioning of Sellafield. This facility is a key piece in the jigsaw of projects we need to clean-up the most hazardous areas of the site – the NDA’s number one priority task.

“Once opened, the building will provide world-class, modern storage of waste for many years to come, pending its ultimate transfer to the safest and most secure method of dealing with this material – disposal in a deep geological facility.

“This is one of a number of achievements this year at Sellafield, including the completion of the Sludge Packaging Plant and the restarting of fuel removal from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond, and I hope to see this momentum continuing across the decommissioning programme.”



August 26, 2014

HSE confirms appointment of new Chief Executive

Author: Admin - Categories: HSE

The Health and Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, has aims to reduce

Dr Richard Judge

Dr Richard Judge

death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. It has recently announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive.

Dr Richard Judge has been appointed chief executive of Britain’s workplace health and safety regulator. He will start at the Health and Safety Executive in November 2014.

Commenting on the appointment, Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Richard as our new chief executive and look forward to working with him. His valuable, considerable experience in both the public and private sector is a perfect fit for HSE, enabling us to take forward our commercial agenda whilst also ensuring we can build on our standing as a world-class regulator of workplace health and safety.”

Richard Judge said:

“This is a great opportunity to lead the executive of a renowned and respected regulator that will soon celebrate its 40th year. I look forward to working with my new HSE colleagues, and with everyone who has a stake in delivering further improvements in Britain’s health and safety performance.”

Richard is currently chief executive of the Insolvency Service. Prior to this he had a varied career in science and technology organisations spanning the nuclear, rail and environmental sectors. Richard has a professional background as a Chartered Engineer (Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers), and is qualified as a Chartered Director.

He will take over from Kevin Myers, who has been acting chief executive since August 2013, when Geoffrey Podger stepped down after eight years in the role


August 15, 2014

EDF closes two nuclear power stations

Author: Admin - Categories: EDF - Tags: , ,

EDF has, in a precautionary move, temporarily closed two nuclear power stations in the North – Heysham 1 and heysham-1Hartlepool. This follows the finding of a crack in one of the boilers at Heysham 1 during a routine inspection in June which led to one of the reactors being shut down.

EDF has said that the four reactors at the two power stations will remain shut as they are of a similar design.  It is currently estimated that the investigations may take up to eight weeks. Other nuclear power stations owned by EDF are unaffected by these closures as they are of a different design.

Shut-down at this time of year is unlikely to have any significant effect on electricity supplies as demand is low and any shortfall can be supplied by other stations on the National Grid.

August 1, 2014

ONR suggests working with different regulators risks slowing UK nuclear build

Author: Admin - Categories: New Build, Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR)

Working with nuclear regulators in different countries risks slowing the development of small nuclear power stations ONR logo ONR logo
in the UK.

That’s the view of the Chief Nuclear Inspector at the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), who was providing evidence at the House of Commons on small modular reactors (SMRs) in Britain.

SMRs are reactors that are less than 300MW in capacity and unlike large nuclear plants, they can be made in a factory as a whole unit.

Speaking to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Dr Andy Hall said: “The only caution I would give in working with other regulators is the group could move at the speed of the slowest in the group although usually speaking you would expect working in combination, you would all come to a conclusion more readily, more speedily.

“In some cases, if other countries don’t have the same priorities for reactor design, it might not move as quickly as ourselves or some others.”

When asked if agreeing to a regulatory scheme with another market might open up potential for savings, Dr Hall said despite the safety objectives in major western countries being similar, it would be “very difficult” for regulators in different nations “to simply issue a joint statement of acceptability of a reactor design”.

He added each nation would have to issue the acceptance of a design in a way that aligns with their own legal and regulatory processes which could prolong the procedure. The US system is moving to becoming “more risk-informed than it has traditionally been” however the UK has had that since 1974, Dr Hall said.

Britain is currently looking into three SMR designs that have been proposed by different organisations.

However, according to the Director for Strategy and Technology at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) “just having the science and technology right doesn’t mean we can implement it”.

Dr Adrian Simper said: “We have to think through where does the money come from, who is contracted to whom and for what, who bears what sorts of risk, how do we bring in technology vendors, builders, people with money and utilities. Ultimately electricity needs to be a part of this in order to create a solution which delivers the end point that UK separated plutonium stockpile is managed to the smallest amount.”

He added the aim is to know “how we would go to the market to carry out an acquisition” by 2016 and then allow DECC to make a decision on whether it wishes to start building small nuclear power plants.



Tallest historic chimney at Sellafield to be demolished

Author: Admin - Categories: decommissioning, sellafield - Tags:
Sellafield Self-climbing-platform

An innovative self climbing platform will be used to dismantle the chimney

The skyline at Europe’s oldest nuclear site will change forever when the 122 metre structure is removed.

The 61-metre chimney sits on top of an eleven-storey reprocessing plant and stands 122 metres from the ground in total, making it the tallest historic structure on the site since it was built in the 1950s – but not for much longer.

Sellafield Ltd’s demolition team is developing plans to safely dismantle it but, because the chimney sits right at the heart of one of the busiest areas of the most complex nuclear site in Europe, they’ll not be able to use explosives to bring it down.

Instead they’ll be using a special platform to remove the 600 tonnes of concrete and rebar, and over 25 tonnes of stainless steel that make up the huge structure.

Project manager Matthew Hodgson said: “The job of bringing down the stack is going to be a delicate operation to ensure 100 per cent safety of all personnel and surrounding nuclear plants. We have employed Nuvia Limited who has been working with us and a number of other contractors, including Delta Steeplejacks, for the last three years on the demolition scheme.

“Because we can’t use explosives, we will use an ingenious self-climbing platform which will bring the chimney down bit by bit in a controlled manner.”

This clever technique has recently been used in the demolition of the Battersea Power Station’s famous chimneys, which have actually then been re-built to preserve the appearance of the capital’s iconic building.


July 18, 2014

Sellafield celebrates 50 years of safe operations

Author: Admin - Categories: decommissioning, Magnox, NDA, sellafield

The UK’s first commercial nuclear reprocessing plant is celebrating a land mark birthday – still going strong after 50Sellafield img_process years of safe operations.

Sellafield’s Magnox Reprocessing Plant first opened its doors in the same year the Great Train robbers went on trial, and the very first episode of Match of the Day hit the first ever portable televisions.

It was an age before computers were able to help scientists plan and run nuclear plants, and the fact that Magnox has lasted for twice the length of time it was designed to, and is still reprocessing fuel and helping to keep lights on around the UK in 2014, is testament to the skills of the engineers who built the facility, true nuclear pioneers.

To celebrate that special birthday, Sellafield Ltd, the company who manage operations at Sellafield today, invited 50 former staff members back to visit the old facility, and see how it has changed over the years.

One of the group, John Hall, who was the night shift manager the night the very first fuel rods were put into the plant, said: “The Magnox reprocessing plant really has proved to be the backbone of the UK’s nuclear industry, and it’s doing important work today as it has always done.

“I remember that first night when it had been turned on, we went on the night shift not knowing what to expect. I mean, we sort of knew it was going to work because we were professional and we trusted the theory, but it was still something of a leap of faith to see exactly how it would work and what would happen — as there was no way you could be absolutely certain until you turned it on and waited to see what happened. It was a nervous first night and something I will never forget.

“There has obviously been a lot of modernisation in terms of bringing the plant up to current safety standards, and retrospectively fitting state of the art safety equipment, including computers, but in essence it still looks and feels very much like it did all those years ago. When I retired in 1994 I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back – but I’m glad I’ve been able to. I’m proud of having played a part in something that has been so important to the global nuclear industry and the fabric of the local area.”

Mark Jackson, the current Head of the Magnox Operating Unit said: “The longevity of the plant, and its safety record, are a real success for not only the nuclear industry, but industry as a whole.

“Imagine a car from 1964 still running on the roads today, and not just being brought out for exhibitions or displays, but actually doing hard miles, every month, come what may. That’s what our Magnox Reprocessing Plant does, and we are extremely proud of it.

“Of course from time to time we face challenges – you’d expect to with a plant this old – but we have a skilled and talented workforce, many of whom have worked in this plant for their entire careers, and whatever comes up, we overcome it and move forward. Some of the operators on the plant have been there for more than 40 years, they know it inside out and are able to pass on their knowledge to the younger team members.”

The government, most recently via the NDA, has invested heavily in maintaining the plant, such is the significance of the role it plays in reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from power stations around the UK. Without Magnox operating safely they wouldn’t be able to generate power for the National Grid.

It takes fuel from Magnox Reactors – like the one that used to run at Sellafield, Calder Hall, and recycles it, dissolving the uranium bar so that plutonium and fission products produced in nuclear reactors can be separated, with the plutonium and uranium able to be reused to make fresh fuel.

More than 52,000 tonnes of fuel have been reprocessed in the plant over the past 50 years.

It currently employees over 400 people, and is estimated to have sustained thousands of jobs in West Cumbria since it opened.

The plant is due to close down in around 2020 – but work to fully decommission it will take decades longer.



July 16, 2014

Dounreay awards new contract

Author: Admin - Categories: amec, Dounreay, NDA
Dounreay aerial view

Dounreay aerial view

A four-year contract for professional services at Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) has been awarded to engineering firm AMEC.

DSRL is the site licence company responsible for the clean-up and demolition of this former nuclear research facility on behalf of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)

AMEC will provide a range of consultancy services including design, safety case preparation, project management, specialist engineering, decommissioning and technical support.

Under current plans, the Dounreay Nuclear site is expected to close by 2025


Historic nuclear fuel retrievals re-start at Sellafield

Author: Admin - Categories: decommissioning, NNL, sellafield, waste management, Windscale
Sellafield Retrieval_WEB

Windscale Laboratory

The job of emptying canned fuel from the original Windscale fuel storage pond at Sellafield restarts following two years of work to refurbish a specialist facility which repackages legacy canned fuel into modern containers.

The Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) was the very first nuclear fuel storage pond constructed at Sellafield back in the 1940s and to this day remains the largest open air nuclear storage pond in the world. It is currently being decommissioned and part of this work involves emptying the pond of its nuclear fuel.

Dorothy Gradden, Head of PFSP explained: “The PFSP is well past retirement age and we’re fully committed to removing all the nuclear fuel that has been stored there for decades.

“The pond poses one of the most challenging decommissioning projects on the Sellafield site. Almost 1000 different waste forms have been identified and this canned fuel represents the most significant hazard in the pond and is therefore the highest priority to remove.

“We’ve given the National Nuclear Laboratory’s (NNL) Windscale Laboratory the job of opening up the old fuel cans in a controlled environment to examine the fuel condition and then repackage it for the site’s more modern fuel storage ponds.

“In 2012 we accelerated the retrieval of the first sixteen cans of fuel to allow us to prove our retrieval techniques and underpin the treatment route; while this work was successful we had to pause the retrieval programme while a scheduled upgrade of the Windscale Laboratory was carried out. This is now complete and we are very pleased to be able to start moving canned fuel from the pond and reducing the hazard associated with the facility.”

Originally PFSP stored nuclear fuel and isotopes from the Windscale Pile Reactors that produced nuclear materials for the defence industry. However, the majority of this canned fuel actually hails from the Windscale Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (WAGR) – the AGR test reactor or golf ball as it’s commonly known. The PFSP received fuel from WAGR in the 1960s, but was never designed to store oxide fuel long term.

Project manager Andy Williams said: “A twelve month programme has started to transfer the 32 flasks of canned fuel from the pond to the NNL Laboratory and onward into the care of our colleagues in the Thorp programme. Underpinning this transfer has required a very close working partnership between all of the parties and has exemplified the drive for accelerated hazard reduction highlighted in the company mission.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to put in place new handling and export equipment so we can safely start emptying the pond of fuel – it’s a red letter day for us. This flask movement marks the successful conclusion of a substantial programme of work which will help meet the safer sooner objective for the PFSP.”

NNL Waste Management & Decommissioning Director Nick Hanigan said: “NNL operate the Windscale Lab, which is strategically important to both the UK and Sellafield. Sellafield Ltd is NNL’s biggest customer and it’s very important that we work together on the legacy clean up of Sellafield. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Sellafield Ltd team involved in recommencing the processing of materials and also the NNL team. They worked closely together to make this project a success. We will continue processing materials for another 12 months, and at the end of this it will be a major step forward in decommissioning the PFSP.”