Refurbished 66-ton Crane Speeds Sellafield Waste Cleanup

The refurbishment of a massive overhead crane has hastened cleanup work at a British facility storing 14,000 square meters of nuclear waste.

Between 1986 and 1992, nearly 30,000 tons of spent fuel from Magnox reactors in the UK, Italy and Japan were housed in the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond for reprocessing at the Sellafield site. Since its closure, the facility has embarked on a decades-long plan to remove spent fuel, residue from corroded fuel cladding, sludge and other waste from the pool.

That work was set back in 2002 when conditions prompted the government to condemn the pool's overhead crane, known First Generation Magnox Storage Pond. Source: Sellafield the skip handler machine. On Wednesday, Sellafield Ltd. announced that refurbishment has made the crane fully operational. In a release, the executive director for Sellafield decommissioning, Jim French, said the refurbishment will have a "massive impact on the
decommissioning program."

Testing has demonstrated that the 60-foot-wide crane can once again move skips of fuel, waste and equipment inside the pond. Fixing its supporting steelwork and rails in the high-dose environment took more than 300 workers two years. The machine also features a new control system and enhanced tooling.

According to the release, the next step will be to use the crane and a remotely operated vehicle to create enough space within the pond to install equipment that will pipe sludge to the newly built Sludge Packaging Plant 1 in 2014.

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