Nuclear experts at Sellafield have successfully removed one hundred tonnes of contaminated redundant equipment from the oldest fuel storage pond at Europe’s oldest and most complex nuclear site. The 60 year old pond, known as the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP), has to be emptied carefully as part of a plan to clean up and decommission the oldest nuclear facilities in the UK.
Although there remains a further 650 tonnes of contaminated metal to be retrieved from the pond, removal of the first 100 tonnes demonstrates progress on the programme to successfully decommission the facility, says Sellafield Ltd, which is decommissioning the UK’s nuclear legacy on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The pond was initially constructed to store fuel from the Windscale Pile reactors, whose primary focus was producing plutonium for the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The storage pond stopped receiving fuel in the 1970s.
Dorothy Gradden, Head of Programme Delivery in the PFSP, said: ‘Our nuclear forefathers developed a technology that helped the UK secure a seat at the global power table in the aftermath of the Second World War. The oldest plants at Sellafield were built in a time before computers existed and with little thought given to how they would be decommissioned. The challenge for this generation of nuclear pioneers is to safely decommission those earliest facilities as cost effectively as we can.’