BNFL has removed 15 transport flasks from the wall of a redundant fuel storage pond at Sellafield seven weeks ahead of schedule.
The flasks, which had been in the pond building for 45 years and weigh around 3t each, were standing on one of the pond dividing walls when the plant was shut down. In this position, they were an obstruction to future clean-up work in the facility. The removal of these flasks has also reduced the stresses on the wall of the pond, which was originally built in the late 1940s.
Head of manufacturing for the ponds retrieval team, Mike Travis, said: "It might seem that moving the flasks was a relatively simple activity, but it has been quite a challenge to clean them to modern standards." Past attempts to clean the flasks had not brought them to current standards.
The pond was originally built between 1948 and 1952 to store fuel from the Windscale pile before reprocessing. It was subsequently modified to take fuel from Calder Hall, and was shut down in the early 1960s.
In recent years, BNFL has permanently isolated the ponds from the reactor water ducts and reequipped it to allow sorting of the pond contents. Now BNFL is identifying the materials that remain in the pond and its associated building. Eventually, the pond will be emptied, decontaminated and drained.