A state-of-the-art Glove Box Training Facility for the UK nuclear industry has been opened at Sellafield. Glove boxes are crucial to operations at nuclear sites enabling operators to handle hazardous material in a safe and controlled environment. However, their use requires high levels of skill and dexterity. The new facility will reduce the amount of training done within plants and provide a standardised approach across the sector. It was delivered by the UK Alpha Resilience & Capability (ARC) programme.
Historically, glove box training has mostly been provided within nuclear facilities themselves. This meant training tended to be specialised reducing opportunities for standardisation. The new facility will provide a more standardised approach, offering detailed training in glove boxes configured to recreate any scenario imaginable. Lighting and temperature can also be controlled to replicate the conditions trainees will face in the workplace.
Minister for Nuclear & Networks Andrew Bowie said: “Nuclear skills training is key for the government to hit its target to provide up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity from homegrown nuclear energy by 2050, whilst supporting jobs across the country. The safe handling of nuclear waste is vital to deliver our nuclear ambitions, and this new glove box facility at Sellafield will help equip a new generation of nuclear operators.”
Jacq Longrigg, group head of leadership, skills, and talent at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), said the facility will deliver a wide range of benefits across the sector, in terms of consistency, safety and efficiency. “With 17,000 people working across the NDA group, ours is one of the largest and most experienced nuclear workforces in the world.”
She added: “Investing in skills and ensuring that we have the right people with the right expertise to deliver our mission today, and for decades to come, is a priority as well as a legal obligation. We know that we can’t do this alone and this is a great example of how we are working in collaboration across the NDA group, with government and the sector to make a real difference and advance the wider UK nuclear industry.”
According to UK ARC programme manager Kierra Desay, as well as delivering a number of improvements for the industry, the facility will provide a better experience for trainees and an improved service to our customers. “The potential benefits are huge and will underpin ARC’s vision to sustain and enhance the UK’s Alpha capability,” she noted.
Training course content has been developed via the ARC programme and underpinned by a series of pilot training courses. The UK ARC programme is a partnership between government, nuclear operating companies, and the wider nuclear industry. It works to ensure the UK has the skills it needs to complete current and future missions related to special nuclear materials.
Partners include: Department for Energy & Net Zero, NDA, Office for Nuclear Regulation, Sellafield Ltd, Dounreay Sites Restoration Ltd, Atomic Weapons Establishment, National Nuclear Laboratory and Nuclear Skills Strategy Group.
Image: The new facility will allow operators to handle hazardous material in a safe and controlled environment (courtesy of gov.uk)