Giant crane speeds up clean up at nuclear site

A piece of equipment designed to filter radioactive sludge from part of the Sellafield site has been installed using one of the largest cranes in Europe.

The 20 tonne local effluent treatment plant (LETP) was lowered into the power station’s pile fuel storage pond where it will reduce radioactivity during sludge retrievals, reducing the discharge levels by as much a 75 times.

The LETP module is capable of cleaning up 125m3 of pond water each day, accelerating the sludge retrievals programme and significantly reducing employees’ exposure to radiation.

Preparation work by the project team has been underway for several months, including the successful removal of four skips from the pond, preparing the pond floor for the new equipment and carrying out rigorous safety checks prior to the module’s installation.

The crane lift was successfully completed within a day, and work is underway to install support services and remaining equipment for the LETP. The target date for bringing the plant online is the end of this year.

The installation is the first piece of equipment on the site that has been commissioned by British Nuclear Group’s specialist contracting arm, Project Services, and according to the company represents a key milestone in the overall programme of accelerated clean-up and decommissioning in legacy ponds and silos.

Glenn McCracken, head of delivery for the pile fuel storage pond, said: “The installation of the local effluent treatment plant is an important step in the programme of cleaning up one of the most challenging plants on the Sellafield site.

“The innovative way this proven technology has been used, perfectly matches our requirements. The construction of the module, demonstration and operator training has been completed off-site, which will speed up installation time and minimise the risks of worker exposure to radiation.”

Sam Bond

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