Construction has been completed of a new facility for the safe and secure storage of nuclear materials produced as a result of reprocessing operations carried out at the UK's Sellafield site.
The Sellafield Product and Residues Store (SPRS) is the first major project to be completed by Sellafield Ltd under the ownership of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP). It has been completed on behalf of the site owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), two months ahead of schedule and under budget.
|The new SPRS facility (Image: Sellafield Ltd)
The facility is a heavily reinforced concrete nuclear storage facility forming part of the nuclear decommissioning strategy for Sellafield. The SPRS structure is approximately 90 metres long, 50m wide by 20m high, split internally into four defined areas each of which has various intermediate floor levels. Construction of the passively-cooled facility began in September 2005. In total, it includes some 36,000 cubic metres of concrete, 9500 tonnes of reinforcing steel and about 300 kilometres of cables.
One of the key purposes of the store is to accommodate materials already at Sellafield which need to be retrieved from older facilities, repackaged and placed in a modern facility. It will receive materials recovered from historic fuel manufacturing buildings that are now being decommissioned.
In a statement, Sellafield Ltd said: "The SPRS is one of the biggest civil nuclear storage facilities in the world and the store along with its planned extensions could safely and securely store all of the UK's civil stock of plutonium if required." It added, "This is the first facility built at Sellafield with at least a 100 year life expectancy as the current UK strategy is to store the plutonium indefinitely and Sellafield Ltd has to plan to store plutonium until 2120."
Senior project manager Tom Gilroy commented: "We have completed construction, established the links with associated facilities and installed and performed all of the functioning tests on the equipment with the plant. It is now with great pleasure that we hand over the facility to our internal customer - the operations team."
Rebecca Weston, head of operating unit, plutonium operations said: "SPRS is a crucial element in the Sellafield site plutonium management strategy." She added, "As such, the SPRS operations team, within the newly formed plutonium operating unit, are excited about taking charge of this new facility and working towards safe active operations, which will enable continued safe and secure storage of plutonium materials on the Sellafield site."
NMP is a consortium made up of URS of the USA, Amec of the UK and France’s Areva. From 24 November 2008, it took over the operational and decommissioning work at Sellafield, one of the largest nuclear sites in the world. The contract is worth a whopping £1.3 billion ($2.3 billion) per year, with scope for a £50 million ($88 million) bonus for performance and efficiency.
The Sellafield sites represent the heart of the UK nuclear industry. Among their 1000 facilities are the first full-size nuclear power plant in the world, Calder Hall, as well as the Thorp used nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP), which recycles recovered uranium and plutonium into new reactor fuel.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News