The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has concluded that the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) will not achieve the original design capacity throughput rate of 120tHM/year.

In its latest update on the facility the NDA said that the fuel manufacturing facility is in the early stages of ramp up with an ultimate target of around 40t/y, or around a third of the design output.

With the manufacturing processes not yet mature, the production plan for this year was to increase the number of fabricated assemblies by 300%. However, the plant has experienced a number of equipment reliability problems and some engineering programme slippage which have limited the production likely to be achieved this year. It is now believed that, this financial year, two thirds of the planned output will be achieved with the balance being fabricated in the early summer of 2006.

A significant programme of plant capacity and capability improvements are also under development aimed at increasing the throughput to levels that will meet customer requirements.

Nonetheless, modelling work indicates that the ramp up is likely to be slower than planned and the programme is currently being examined to determine what other opportunities could be exploited.