As a site, the full appreciation of chemical legislation, including The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations DSEAR, has been inadequate’. [Sellafield Ltd Board of Investigation report on 2017 ‘chemical event’ and made available to CORE in April 2018] Many of the findings of the more recently published (20th June 2018) National Audit Office (NAO) report will come as little surprise, once again apportioning blame for a litany of missed milestones, mismanagement of contracts and delays and overspend on major projects by site owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The report also criticises the Government’s failure to challenge and assess the NDA’s performance. Of Sellafield’s 1400 buildings (operational and legacy), some are considered by NAO to fall short of modern standards and, through deterioration, ‘pose a significant risk to people and the environment’. Identified as amongst Sellafield’s top 10 highest hazards is the site’s plutonium stock and associated management facilities, the NAO report warns specifically of decaying plutonium canisters – a leak from which would add to the growing list of ’intolerable risks’ posed by Sellafield as identified by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the acknowledged risks posed by the volumes of hazardous wastes and materials stored in run-down buildings. Yet curiously absent from the references to run down buildings and intolerable risks – and despite making the national headlines when the Army’s bomb squad was rushed to Sellafield late one October weekend last year to deal with unstable chemicals – is the site’s Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) facility and the cocktail of chemicals and radioactive materials it holds. One of the oldest facilities on site (built in 1951) and located in the tight and highly controlled confines of Sellafield’s Separation Area alongside old reprocessing plant and the high hazard legacy ponds and silos, around 50 of ASL’s original 150 laboratories are currently operational. Described by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in June 2017 as a ‘relatively high risk’ facility whose laboratories hold a ‘considerable radiological inventory’ that ‘has potentially high off-site consequences in the event of a major accident’, it is little wonder that the Bomb Squad’s arrival in late October 2017 to deal with ‘unstable chemicals’ and their potential to ignite or explode; the evacuation of workers and a 100-metre cordon thrown up around ASL should have triggered major alarm bells locally and further afield.
CORE 4th July 2018 read more »
A tricky operation to demolish the tallest chimney at the Sellafield nuclear power plant has now passed the most dangerous stage. The 61-metre high chimney no longer meets modern standards but – being on top of an old nuclear reprocessing plant and surrounded by buildings containing hazardous material – it cannot be blown down or smashed with a wrecking ball. Instead it is being brought down by hand, with the debris removed by tipping buckets.
Construction Index 4th July 2018 read more »
Decommissioning work at Sellafield nuclear site in the UK has reached two milestones. Work has begun to remove Sellafield’s most hazardous material, a highly radioactive ‘liquor’ that has been taken out of one of the oldest parts of the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo for the first time. And the site’s tallest chimney is being brought down brick-by-brick using a platform that climbs up the structure itself. The radioactive ‘liquor’ has been inside the waste store for many decades. It was created when water was used to cover the waste so it could not ignite. New networks of heavily-shielded pipes have been built to help get take the material out of the building. Teams from Sellafield Ltd and supply chain companies recently transferred the first batch.
Power Engineering International 4th July 2018 read more »