Ten years in the making, the first 500-year steel containers designed for nuclear waste specifically for the Cumbria Sellafield decommissioning project in Britain are now coming off the assembly line, The Whitehaven News reported.
The 1.3 meter steel containers with venting to allow for hydrogen control are expected to hold nuclear waste for centuries once a final repository is created.
Two British firms, Darchem Engineering of Stockton-on-Tees and Metalcraft of Cambridgeshire, have produced the first batch of containers. A total of 2,200 of the containers are on order. They were designed for holding and transporting waste now stored in the Sellafield Pile Fuel Cladding Silo. They are expected to last for 500 years.
Container production means that waste removal from silo storage is now possible, said Sellafield Ltd. decommissioning chief Glenn McCracken. “We're on the brink of seeing waste retrievals starting from our two legacy silos and expect to start getting the waste out of both facilities next year,” McCracken said. The entire retrieval process is expected to take 10 to 12 years.
The delay of the start of retrieval until next year is in place to allow production to build up a significant supply of containers and to assess the rate of production so that retrieval can be planned accordingly. “That means having enough boxes ready to be filled and having the confidence that a conveyor belt of production will be delivering a steady stream of them,” McCracken said.
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