Milestone for UK waste project

31 March 2022

Golden Whistles 2022 (Photo credit; DRS)A major project to dispose of more than 1000 stainless steel drums of waste from the Winfrith Magnox site at Nuclear Waste Services’ Low Level Waste Repository site in the UK has completed its initial rail transfer. 

Nuclear Waste Services  announced the milestone on 29 March in a joint statement with Magnox Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The project, which has been several years in the planning, is a prime example of the One NDA approach, through working in cooperation across the group, safely enabling an early, fit-for-purpose transport and disposal solution to support ongoing decommissioning activities.

The drums, which originated from the Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR) at Winfrith, were placed in the Treated Radwaste Store (TRS) awaiting transfer to the Harwell Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) facility. However due to a period of radioactive decay, they have been reclassified from Intermediate Level Waste to Low Level Waste, allowing early disposal at the Repository site with significant financial savings to the UK taxpayer.

Andrew Munro, Winfrith Site Director, commented: “The shipment of these drums is a significant achievement for the site and is another step closer to completing our decommissioning mission and returning the site to heathland with public access. Many thanks to all parties involved who have made this possible, a great example of a collaborative approach.”

The drums will be transported by rail in cabriolet containers and will arrive at the Repository site in multiple consignments. Planning and preparation were key to the success of this project. The construction of a new haul road has been undertaken to transport the drums to their final resting place in Vault 8.

A drum posting system will be installed on the vault floor, which aids location of the drum stacks, making best use of available space. Disposal of the waste in single drums enables Nuclear Waste Services to utilise otherwise unusable space within the vault, reducing the amount of in-fill material required to close it. Eleven consignments, each transporting 10 cabriolet containers of 10 drums, will arrive on site by rail transfer provided by Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS), approximately every 13 weeks, depending on the retrievals process at Winfrith.

Howard Falconer, Head of Customer Management at Nuclear Waste Services (Operations and Services), said: “Seeing the first train depart Winfrith and arrive at the Repository is an exciting moment for everyone involved in the project. It is the result of over five years of collaborative planning and preparation by Nuclear Waste Services, Magnox Ltd, Nuclear Transport Solutions and our extensive supply chain partners involved in the delivery of this work, including Cyclife, React Engineering, PDL and Stobbarts, to mention but a few.”

The Magnox team will now continue to retrieve drums, and Nuclear Waste Services will start the preparations for the first emplacements to take place later this year.

Photo: Golden Whistles 2022 (Credit: DRS)

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