Berkeley decommissioning project ahead of schedule
As part of an acceleration programme to Berkeley’s Near Term Work Plan, site manager Mark Steele set a challenging target of dismantling and removing a complete suite of six high-active cells from within the site’s shielded area.During their operational life, the cells had hosted a variety of research and development work. As a consequence of these operations the inner containment boxes were contaminated to varying degrees, some containing irradiated fuel arising from dissolution, titration and dry-out tests on aqueous solutions containing fissile material.
The challenge for Magnox Electric Ltd’s decommissioning operations team was to determine the best practical means for the economic removal of these cells, while maintaining the high safety and environmental standards demanded by the NDA.
Using historical records and the considerable knowledge and operational expertise of staff, trials of the possible options - including remote swabbing, vacuuming and use of cleaning agents - were carried out.
One of the most effective and innovative methods under trial was the application, by a paint sprayer, of an environmentally inert, soluble, strippable coating which ‘tied down’ light, loose particulate. This reduced the risk of re-suspension and consequential airborne hazard.
The success of the contamination control techniques minimised the radiological risk to workers dismantling the complex research rigs and facilities. During the work, more than 245 tonnes of metal plating and 12 tonnes of lead shot were recycled to an authorised metal recycling company for reuse. In addition, the company is presently in negotiation with research establishments to re-use equipment removed from the suite.
This was one of the first contracts to be completed under the NDA’s supervision and it clearly illustrates the versatility of Magnox Electric Ltd’s staff and that working as a single integrated team, which included Berkeley’s decommissioning operations and a specialist company, enabled the contract to be finished to cost and ahead of schedule.
The team also focused on getting the job done to high safety and environmental standards; provided best value for money consistent with those standards; developed a drive for innovative techniques and ensured the best possible use of available skills from both the public and private sectors.