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Improving safety testing techniques at Sellafield

Large volumes of radioactive waste presented Sellafield Ltd. with a potential environmental hazard at Sellafield, a large nuclear site in the UK. New and improved treatment plants were required to stabilise the waste, but testing new technologies was difficult in a live radioactive environment, and has safety implications for the staff involved.

To address the problem, we built a vitrification test rig (VTR), a full-scale replica of the original. Vitrification is a process of converting waste into a glass-like solid. We managed the procurement, construction and commissioning of the rig and worked closely with the design team throughout the process to ensure that the finished product would exactly simulate our customer’s waste processing system.

"Safety considerations are at the forefront of all nuclear projects. We add value for our customers by devising new methods of delivering solutions which minimise their risk."
Terry Gilbert, Business Development Director

The innovative model is the first of its kind and is used to test and evaluate new processes and technologies prior to their implementation in the actual plant. This offers a safe, highly efficient and cost-effective method for trialing new ideas in a non-active environment, without affecting the plant’s ongoing production.

We safely dismantled the turbine hall at the first plutonium-burning nuclear power station in France, without creating a risk to the surrounding environment. This project is an example of best practice that will be replicated in future decommissioning projects in France.

Location:Sellafield, UK
Client:Sellafield Ltd
Value:£30 million (Project)
Scope:Engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning
Date:2001 – 2004