Babcock has been awarded a framework contract for the management of intermediate-level waste (ILW) at all of the UK's Magnox plant sites. It and five other companies will bid for portions of a £300 million ($480 million) work program.
The company said that the contract covers the retrieval and processing of both wet and solid ILW across the Magnox sites, including Berkeley, Bradwell, Dungeness A, Hinkley Point A, Sizewell A, Chapelcross, Oldbury, Wylfa, Trawsfynydd and Hunterston A. All the plants except Oldbury and Wylfa have already shut down. ILW comprises a range of material including debris from the fuel elements, resins, sludges and graphite. The safe retrieval and storage of ILW is essential before shut down reactors can enter the 'care and maintenance' stage of decommissioning.
Babcock said, "Work to be carried out under the framework contract will include the supply of equipment and technical support in the form of an integrated solution to specific project requirements, to retrieve and process the various waste streams for storage in self-shielding waste containers for final disposal, as part of the ILW Mini Stores Management Program."
"The framework contract is part of a new approach being taken by Magnox to contract projects on an end-to-end basis for the safe and cost-effective management of ILW," the company added.
Babcock said that it is "one of six companies to be awarded a framework contract by Magnox for ILW retrieval and processing, and one of only three to have secured a contract for both solid and wet wastes." It added: "This contract now enables the selected companies to bid for specific projects within this area of the Magnox ILW Management Program. The value of the framework contract (within which individual projects are competed) is expected to be £300 million ($480 million) over ten years. Bids for the first projects under the contract are now being prepared." Information on the identity of the other selected companies was not immediately available.
The owner of the UK's Magnox plants, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), has mandated the implementation of the 'Mini Store' option of managing its ILW. Under this option - which is more cost-effective than other options - the waste is placed in cast iron, self-shielding boxes weighing 18 tonnes and capable of holding almost three cubic-metres of waste. A concrete waste store approach had previously been chosen.
Once filled with waste, the Mini Stores can then be kept on-site or easily transported to another site for storage. When an ILW repository becomes available, the containers could simply be placed within it. The German nuclear industry has been using this method of ILW management for more than 20 years.
In July 2010, Magnox signed a contract with Germany's GNS (Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service) worth up to £106 million ($170 million) for the supply of ILW Mini Stores. An initial order of 69 boxes was due to be delivered in 2010.
The use of Mini Stores in the UK must currently be approved by the national regulators on a case-by-case basis.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News