Magnox waste facility supplier chosen

16 April 2014

A facility to encapsulate legacy materials from Magnox fuel stored at the UK's Sellafield site will be built by a French-British joint venture under a contract worth up to £1.2 billion.

The AMA joint venture - comprising Areva, Atkins and Mace - has been selected as the preferred bidder by site operator Sellafield Ltd to complete the engineering design, procurement, construction and commissioning-related activities for the Silos Direct-encapsulation Plant (SDP). When Sellafield launched the tender for the facility in 2012, the value of the contract was put at between £500 million ($840 million) and £1.2 billion ($2.0 billion). Construction is expected to be completed by 2018.

The SDP plant is described by Sellafield Ltd as "a large and technically complex treatment plant." It will process intermediate-level waste recovered from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo - one of the oldest nuclear waste silos on the Sellafield site dating back to the 1960s. This waste will be packaged ready for long-term storage, significantly reducing the hazard posed by the MSSS material in its current "raw" state.

The scope of the SDP project is based around re-use of and extension to an existing site facility initially constructed to house a plant intended to treat the waste.

The original SDP plant was constructed between 1995 and 2001. However, work on the facility was suspended following new information on the waste streams to be processed. In 2004, work was carried out on the new process options for the plant and in 2005 significant elements of the redundant plant and equipment were stripped out in preparation for the new plant.

Sellafield Ltd's chief projects officer Scott Reeder said, "The market recognised the challenges presented by this important and complex project and two strong joint venture organizations emerged to tender for the contract." He added, "Sellafield Ltd was very pleased with the quality, capability and commitment offered by each of these organizations.

Sellafield Ltd will now enter "a period of preferred bidder clarification and confirmation of commitment with AMA whilst the contract is finalised and all legal processes are completed." It noted that the award of the contract still requires approval from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), owner of the Sellafield site.

Priority project

In its business plan for 2014-2017, the NDA says its main areas of focus at Sellafield are the clean-up and decommissioning of its redundant legacy ponds and silos facilities. In addition to the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo, these comprise the pile fuel storage pond, the pile fuel cladding silo and the first generation Magnox storage pond. These facilities supported the development of the UK's nuclear program from the early 1950s and later supported the generation from the fleet of Magnox power plants.

This work will include the removal of nuclear fuel, sludge and solid material from these facilities. The material will then be treated and packaged for storage or disposal.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News