Sellafield has started demolishing the 61 metre-high chimney on top of the site’s 60-year old First Generation Reprocessing Plant after four years of preparatory work.

The demolition work is being carried out using hand-held tools such as drills, breakers, concrete crunching jaws and plasma steel cutting torches, with workers accessing the 650t chimney using a self-climbing circular platform as a work podium. Pieces of concrete and steel are being removed from the stack by hand, with the waste placed in a skip. The chimney will be removed at a rate of 1 metre per week, Sellafield said.

The innovative approach was developed as conventional demolition techniques like explosives and cranes can not be used in such a crowded, hazardous environment.

Sellafied Ltd worked with principal contractors, Nuvia Ltd and steeplejacks, Delta International to come up with the approach for the project.  

“Given the structural integrity of the stack, its location in the heart of the site and the fact that this new technique has never been used here before, the planning has been comprehensive,” said Stuart Latham head of remediation at Sellafield Ltd.

“We couldn’t move a crumb of this chimney without building a modern replacement first, so this has been a complicated project, made easier by working closely with our supply chain.”

This work saw Nuvia win the Technology Innovation Implementation award at the 2017 NDA Estate Supply Chain Awards.

Photo: At 61m tall, atop a 61m building, the stack was the tallest building on the Sellafield until a replacement ventilation stack was built (Credit: Sellafield Ltd)