Sellafield Limited has installed six 12.4t stainless steel doors at the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo on the Sellafield site to aid with clean-up operations. The doors are designed to open the building's 'locked vaults' and will provide the access point for waste retrieval machinery to begin safely lifting out the silo's contents for the first time. The silo is one of the 'big four' legacy facilities at the site in Cumbria, England.
The first door safely arrived at the site in early August, following years of design, planning, manufacture and testing at the Rosyth site of supply chain partners Bechtel Cavendish Nuclear Solutions and BMT. "One by one, the doors have been successfully lifted into a massive 40t nine-metre-wide steel door frame on the side of the building. The doors will play a key role in reducing hazard at the site, enabling waste retrievals to start in 2020," Sellafield Ltd said.
The 21-metre high Pile Fuel Cladding Silo was built between 1950 and 1951 houses six extremely tall waste containers known as 'silos'. By the mid 1990s, the silo was nearing the end of its intended life and required care and maintenance. A programme of upgrade work was completed to enable the building to continue to store waste safely. The next task is to safely retrieve the waste and store it in compact concealed units. The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo has six compartments and now holds over 3,200 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste.
Sellafield Ltd said in October that a complex remote cutting job was underway at the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo to enable the removal of cladding waste. Engineers used an innovative jet to remove plates of steel while maintaining an inert atmosphere important for safety. The silo contains cladding materials removed from fuel assemblies used in some of the UK's earliest reactors at Windscale and Chapelcross. Irradiated cladding had to be removed before used fuel assemblies could be reprocessed to recover the uranium and plutonium for use in the UK’s joint power and weapons nuclear programme in the 1950s and 1960s.