UK-based TSP Engineering will produce transport packages for Sellafield Ltd’s decommissioning programme, Sellafield said on 6 August. The 50-tonne, lead-lined containers will transfer nuclear waste from the legacy Magnox Swarf Storage Silo to newly built storage facilities on the Sellafield site. The work is expected to create or sustain approximately 200 jobs at TSP Engineering.

The move underlines the commitment of Sellafield Ltd and its owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to investing in local supply chains, Sellafield added. TSP Engineering has a long history of manufacturing high integrity products for Sellafield. Under a previous contract the firm produced one new and nine refurbished packages for the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo programme.

The GBP 30 million ($39m) contract is expected to run for a few years and will complete the fleet of packages needed to empty the silo, which is one of the NDA’s highest priority programmes.

The Magnox Swarf Storage Silos was in active use between 1964 and 1991. The original silos were built in the 1960s and the facility was extended three times during the 1970s and 1980s. The Magnox Swarf Storage Silo facility is used to store the waste cladding material that was removed from used Magnox nuclear fuel. The waste inside is classified as intermediate level waste. Most of the radioactivity inside the silo (99.5%) is solid waste, the remaining 0.5% is held within the water (described as liquor).

The estimated volume of waste is 9449 cubic metres. It comprise 22 compartments containing a mixture of different types of intermediate level solid and sludge waste, which resulted from the Magnox reprocessing programme. The waste is primarily irradiated Magnox fuel cladding (often referred to as Magnox swarf) from the decanning of Magnox fuel elements, contaminated by uranium metal fuel, and the sludge arising from the corrosion of the Magnox and uranium metals. Approximately 10% of the waste by volume is also a variety of irradiated and contaminated miscellaneous beta-gamma waste (MBGW). A small volume of large MBGW items is stored in the void between the original building and the first extension. The compartments will also contain residual wastes after the major silo emptying operation is complete.