Bradwell completes treatment of fuel element debris

22 June 2017

All the fuel element debris (FED) waste at the UK's Bradwell nuclear power plant has now been treated to reduce the radiological risk at the site, Magnox Ltd announced yesterday. Removal of the waste is an important step towards Bradwell's planned closure, it said.

Bradwell FED removal - 460 (Magnox)
A shipment of LLW FED leaves Bradwell for treatment at Tradebe-Inutec
(Image: Magnox Ltd)

The FED waste mainly consists of pieces of magnesium alloy cladding that surrounds Magnox nuclear fuel. It is a major source of intermediate-level waste (ILW) at the Bradwell site.

Innovative techniques and unique solutions from Magnox Ltd and the supply chain were used to manage the waste. "The result is a reduction in the hazards on the site and shortening the FED treatment project by more than a year," Magnox Ltd said.

Some 65 tonnes of FED was treated in an on-site 'dissolution plant' which dissolved the waste in an acid, separated the radioactive materials and reduced the volume of the solid waste by more than 90%.

Over half of the FED was reclassified as suitable for disposal as low-level waste (LLW) in a first-of-a-kind collaboration between Magnox Ltd, the Low Level Waste Repository Ltd (LLWR) and specialist subcontractor Tradebe-Inutec.

More than 140 tonnes of FED have now been sent to Tradebe-Inutec as LLW for treatment and eventual disposal at LLWR.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) CEO David Peattie said, "This is another really important milestone and a huge step forward in cleaning up and decommissioning the UK's earliest nuclear sites." He added, "Finding new solutions and techniques to deal with radioactive waste is helping us to do things more quickly and efficiently, making our sites safer sooner and providing best value for the taxpayer."

"We have shown we are able to work collaboratively, both with our supply chain and other parts of the NDA estate, to accelerate progress without compromising our high safety standards, which stand us in good stead as the site approaches care and maintenance," said Bradwell site closure director Bob Nichols.

The demolition of the used fuel ponds complex at Bradwell has also been completed, Magnox Ltd announced. The redundant buildings were decontaminated over a four-year period, which meant they could be taken down using conventional demolition methods. The remaining buildings at the Bradwell site will now be enclosed in weatherproof cladding in preparation of care and maintenance when they will be kept in a passively safe and secure state. This will allow radiation levels to decay naturally over time, resulting in simpler and more cost-effective decommissioning at final site clearance.

Bradwell's two 125 MWe Magnox reactors operated from 1962 to 2002, generating nearly 60 TWh of electricity during the plant's 40-year lifetime. The site is following an accelerated decommissioning program and is now more than halfway through work that should see it become the first reactor site in the UK to enter care and maintenance.

The reactors were defueled by the end of 2005 and all fuel was subsequently removed from the site. The turbine hall was demolished in 2011. In June 2016, Bradwell became the first Magnox site to empty and decontaminate all of its underground waste storage vaults.

Magnox Ltd is owned and operated by Cavendish Fluor Partnership on behalf of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News