Studsvik to decommission Dessel

05 March 2009

Studsvik of Sweden has been awarded a contract to coordinate and supervise the project to decommission Belgonucleaire's mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant in Dessel, Belgium.

Dessel MOX plant (Belgonucleaire)
The Dessel MOX plant (Image: Belgonucleaire)
The contract, worth €1.8 million ($2.25 million) annually, will involve supervisors and two teams of operators and is expected to last for four years. The production areas with gloveboxes, remaining equipment and infrastructure are to be carefully dismantled and packed into waste drums. Studsvik will take on an expert role in the project, advising Belgonucleaire and other contractors on the decommissioning.
Studsvik already has experience in dismantling MOX fuel plants, having participated in the decommissioning of Siemens' MOX plant in Hanau, Germany, between 2001 and 2005.
Alain Vandergheynst, decommissioning manager at Belgonucleaire, said: "Experience from dismantling MOX fuel fabrication plants is rare and is one of the reasons for Belgonucleaire to team up with Studsvik in this decommissioning project."
The Belgonucleaire plant started operation in 1973, initially equipped to fabricate MOX fuel for both fast breeder reactors (FBRs) and light-water reactors (LWRs). In 1984, the plant was temporarily shut down for a refurbishment and the capacity upgraded to 35-40 tons of MOX annually for LWRs only. The refurbished plant began operating in 1986, using a fabrication process developed in-house, the so-called MIMAS process. The whole production line is installed in dry glove boxes.
The plant was closed in August 2006. Belgonucleaire was issued necessary permits for the decommissioning in 2008 and the project is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2009. Decommissioning of the Dessel plant is scheduled for completion by 2013. Belgonucleaire aims to decommission the plant to release the buildings for other nuclear activities.