Studsvik has now obtained all the necessary licenses to construct and operate its proposed radioactive metal recycling plant near Sellafield, in northern England.

Permission from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate marks the first of its kind in over 20 years but has gained little publicity.

Studsvik says that from the outset, the plant will integrate its operations with Studsvik’s metal-melting facilities in Sweden.

The firm plans to use the Sellafield plant to process low-level radioactive metal from operation and decommissioning of UK nuclear plants.

Following radioactive substances act exemption, the metal will be sold into the UK recycled metal market for industrial use. The remaining radioactive waste will be packed and disposed of in the low-level waste repository near Drigg, which is also in Cumbria.

According to Studsvik, there are 500,000t of contaminated scrap metal in the UK that can be treated, recycled and reused.

Plant construction is divided into a number of phases; the first aims to create a waste characterisation, size-reduction, decontamination and release or disposal facility.

The first phase should be finished during the second half of 2008, at which point the facility will become operational.

In addition to the metal recycling, the plant could also be used to accommodate Studsvik’s mobile high-force compaction process, which is used to reduce the volume of low-level waste.

Studsvik acquired the site in early 2006 and a license application under the Nuclear Installations Act was submitted in June 2007. Other regulatory submissions have been made under the requirements of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, and Euratom Treaty Article 37.

The new UK Health and Safety Executive license stands from 18 February 2008.

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