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Sellafield Ltd and the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced on 20 August that preparations are now complete to pull down the Windscale Pile One chimney at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. A special 152 metre crane has been built for the purpose. Work to dismantle the 110 metre chimney – the site of the UK’s worst nuclear accident – will begin later this year. In autumn, work will involve removing and lowering chunks of the chimney cut out using diamond wire saws.

The Windscale Pile One chimney, with its distinctive top-heavy appearance, has dominated the Sellafield skyline for nearly 70 years. Its filtration system was a last-minute addition, placed unusually at its summit. Although it was nicknamed  ‘Cockroft’s Folly’, after its designer Sir John Cockroft, the filtration system proved invaluable. In 1957, when fire broke out in the Windscale Pile One reactor, the filters captured an estimated 95% of the radioactive dust created.

Teams from Sellafield Ltd and its supply chain are working together to safely pull it down the chimney. The first piece to go will be the square-shaped ‘diffuser’ at the top. Because buildings containing nuclear material surround the stack, traditional demolition techniques like explosives cannot be used.

Date: Tuesday, 28 August 2018
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