Rise to the challenge

7 July 2016

A decommissioning project of a reactor built five decades ago at Winfrith will be technically challenging. NEI looks at the project, it’s challenges and what the award might mean for the winner, James Fisher Nuclear.

The team at James Fisher Nuclear Ltd (JFN) is celebrating what it called "a major success" following the award of a four-year contract by Magnox (Winfrith) to deliver a facility for the remote segmentation and packaging of the reactor core of the redundant Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR) located at Winfrith, Dorset, in the UK. The company said the deal was "one of the largest value turnkey decommissioning projects to have been awarded in the UK in recent years and will firmly establish JFN
as the leading reactor decommissioning implementation contractor in the UK".

A company statement said JFN, supported by its integrated team of specialist sub- contractors, overcame "significant national and international competition to secure this prestigious contract for Magnox". The SGHWR reactor will be only the second reactor core within the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate to be subject to decommissioning and will be the first of the 'power' reactors. The first was Windscale Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (WAGR), undertaken by BNFL Project Services in partnership with JFN.

SGHWR was the largest of the nine experimental reactors commissioned on the Winfrith site, constructed between 1963 and 1967 and generating up to 100MW, sufficient electricity to power the needs of a small town. The reactor was finally shutdown in 1990 and has subsequently been subject to de-fuelling and decommissioning operations. "Cutting up and packaging the reactor core for disposal is a major task in the process of returning the site to publicly accessible heathland," said the statement. It went on to say the project presented "a significant technical challenge in terms of remote size reduction and handling operations".

As the NDA drives the decommissioning agenda forward there is an increase in the requirement for solutions that are efficient and cost-effective for the UK taxpayer. JFN believes it is "well placed to deliver such specialist contracts having already demonstrated the delivery of tried and tested solutions to complex decommissioning questions."

Paul Read, managing director of James Fisher Nuclear said: "This success is fantastic news. It represents a further major milestone in JFN's expansion plans; our heightened profile within the market reflects the team's hard work to become a market leader and supplier of choice. JFN's application of the 'Decommissioning Mind- Set' to this technically challenging project has underpinned the credibility of the offer to Magnox, in terms of price, quality and schedule."

The award of this contract illustrates "market confidence in the specialist engineering company to deliver the most economic and advantageous solutions for the nuclear decommissioning industry in a safe, environmental and socially responsible manner," JFN said. The company added: "This project will cement JFN's position as an established Tier 2 Nuclear industry contractor and will leave the company well placed to support the NDA on a portfolio of further decommissioning contracts due for competition over the forthcoming years."

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