Thorp evaporator lifted in

19 December 2007

A new evaporator was lifted into Sellafield's Thorp facility on 19 December. The plant has already completed its first reprocessing campaign following work to bring the reprocessing plant back to full operation.

A new Medium Active Salt Free Evaporator (MASFE) was moved into place through the roof of the Thorp plant this morning using an 800 tonne crane. Thorp was designed with
a spare evaporator cell containing support steel work, cladding and tie-ins already installed in the event that a new evaporator was required. The project involved removing steel work from the building roof and removing the cell top to allow access for the installation of the four major vessels that make up the evaporator. The new component was supplied by Bendalls Engineering. Jordan Nuclear's role in installing it came as a £5.9 million contract.

Project manager, Eleanor Billson explained: "The new facility will replace the existing MASFE which is nearing the end of its life. This is a major engineering challenge which has required significant planning and we had to work very hard to reassure ourselves and our regulator that we could carry out such an unusual operation safely."

Thorp chief Steve Cockayne said that the reprocessing plant had successfully completed its first campaign of reprocessing used nuclear fuel since limited restart earlier this year. In August a campaign to shear 33 tonnes of used nuclear fuel was completed, but another evaporator, Evaporator C, must be replaced
 before it can reach full operation. 

Thorp was shut down when an internal leak of highly radioactive liquor was discovered in May 2005. This was due to unusual stress on a small pipe, which eventually fractured. The loss of the pipe, which could not be repaired, meant a work-around method had to be developed to maintain the plant's process flow. Sellafield Ltd reported on 10 December that the plant's return to operations had "all gone to plan."

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