It was absolutely fascinating to see the size and scale of the clean-up challenge at Sellafield, and the incredibly innovative ways these are being overcome.
Sellafield has played a key role in the UK’s industrial history as a pioneer in the development of nuclear power, and is now leading the world in decommissioning through developing skills, expertise and technologies which are already being exported around the world.
I had the opportunity earlier today to visit the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond which was constructed in the 1950s to store, cool and prepare used Magnox nuclear fuel for recycling into new fuel. Dorothy Gradden, the Head of Programme Delivery, explained that during its 26 year operating lifetime the FGMSP processed approximately 27,000 tonnes of fuel – almost 2.5 million fuel rods – and is now in the process of being emptied of 1500 cubic metres of radioactive sludge lying at the bottom of the pond.
I then visited the Magnox Swarf Storage Silos, and was shown around the facility by Chief Decommissioning Officer Tom Foster who explained the work that was being undertaken to enable the Silos Emptying Plant machines to be installed in the building.
The entire workforce at Sellafield can be proud of the way in which they are responding to the need to tackle decommissioning and waste management, and for the knowledge and capabilities they are developing for use at home and abroad.