New UK waste treatment facility planned

08 March 2022

Plans to jointly develop a state-of-the-art advanced materials treatment facility in the UK have been announced by Westinghouse Electric Company and Perma-Fix Environmental Services. To be built at Westinghouse's Springfields site, the facility will expand waste treatment capabilities for the European nuclear market.

The Springfields site near Preston in Lancashire (Image: Westinghouse)

The two companies signed a term sheet for the project during the 2022 Waste Management Symposia being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona. It is expected that upon finalisation of the agreement, Westinghouse will own 55% of the initiative and Perma-Fix will own the balance.

The new facility will incorporate the Perma-Fix Bulk Processing Unit (BPU), a large, refractory lined oven designed to treat a wide range of low and intermediate-level radioactive materials. The BPU accepts a broad range of material types (including solids and liquids, oils, resins, sludges, slurries and wastewater) while reducing waste volume by 30 to 100 times, which meets the waste acceptance criteria of European disposal facilities. The BPU - which has a throughput capacity of 2-3 metric tonnes per day - also eliminates the risk of cross-contamination.

Perma-Fix - established in 1990 - owns and operates three nuclear licensed and authorised radioactive waste treatment facilities in the USA that currently treat more than 50,000 metric tonnes per year from international waste generators, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Defense, nuclear reactors and nuclear research facilities.

"With the success that our BPU vessel has had in the United States for over two decades, we are eager to bring this technology to new markets, enabling more plants globally to enhance their capabilities when it comes to handling radioactive waste removal," said Perma-Fix CEO Mark Duff.

"In the UK alone, there are over 5.1 million tons of total waste for treatment, including radioactive waste in storage and anticipated waste from decommissioning operations. We look forward to working closely with Westinghouse and leveraging our track record to provide safe treatment options for some of the world's most challenging waste streams."

"We look forward to working with Perma-Fix to provide European customers with increased access to the full range of treatment capabilities - from characterisation, packaging, consignment and transport, to receipt, storage, sort and segregation, treatment and final disposal," said Sam Shakir, president of Environmental Services at Westinghouse.

"Our unmatched experience and proprietary technical innovations will be at the forefront of this facility to ensure the safest storage and disposal of radioactive materials."

The Westinghouse Clean Energy Technology Park at Springfields already houses a variety of uranium recovery facilities as well as acid decontamination facilities for the treatment of metallic wastes.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News