A complex remote cutting job is underway at Sellafield to enable the removal of cladding waste from an outdated silo. Engineers are using an innovative jet to remove plates of steel while maintaining an inert atmosphere important for safety. The work is taking place at the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo, which contains cladding materials removed from fuel assemblies used in some of the UK’s earliest reactors at Windscale and Chapelcross. Irradiated cladding had to be removed before used fuel assemblies could be reprocessed to recover the uranium and plutonium they contained for the purposes of the joint power and weapons nuclear program run by the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. The concrete silo is based on facilities normally used to keep grain and was in operation from 1952 to 1964 with some other additions up to 1968. Since then it has remained in the status of ‘care and maintenance’, benefiting in later years from the removal of redundant structures for better seismic safety and the injection of inert argon gas to its six storage chambers. Now, the UK is determined to clean-up legacy nuclear facilities such as this.
World Nuclear News 5th Oct 2016 read more »