The machine that will be starting the most important hazard and risk reduction job on the Sellafield site later this year has now moved across the specially installed rails at the top of the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS), Sellafield Ltd. announced.
The 350-tonne Silo Emptying Plant (SEP2) machine successfully moved from compartment 6 to compartment 10, where the first waste will be lifted out from.
It’s a milestone moment for the program and allows preparations to begin for active commissioning and the start of retrievals (currently forecast for later in the financial year).
It’s not the first time the machine has moved across the rails inside the legacy silo – that happened in October 2020 when it moved from compartment 4 to compartment 6 in a ‘trial run’ of the big move which has now been successfully completed.
Moving the 30 meters to compartment 10 was barely visible in real-time, but a timelapse video allows viewers to see the move Sellafield Ltd. called "nuclear-decommissioning history in the making."
Shifting the equivalent weight of 3 blue whales along the metal rails is done by hand using twin tirfors, which are, effectively, a horizontal block and tackle arrangement.
The operation was trialed many times off-site too when the machine was being built in Wolverhampton.
Now that it’s in position, the next steps will be to complete the tests of all the remaining SEP 2 functionality which couldn’t be done until the machine was in its retrievals position attached to the compartment ullage.
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