Ton up at Sellafield

By Lindsay Gale30 April 2014

The cooling towers at the Calder Hall nuclear power station were brought down in 2007

The cooling towers at the Calder Hall nuclear power station were brought down in 2007

Sellafield Ltd recently celebrated a milestone in the decommissioning and cleanup of the UK’s historic nuclear facility with the demolition of the 100th structure on the site since 2007, with the most recent being a store. The structures removed include a diverse range of facilities, from legacy chemical plants, R&D facilities, waste stores, reactor cooling towers, right through to portacabins and the original site fire station.

Steve Slater, head of decommissioning, said: “There are over 1,300 facilities at Sellafield to be decommissioned and reaching our first century is a significant achievement. Demolition of the 100 buildings has released over 35,000 square metres (377,000 square feet) of real estate, which is equivalent in size to five soccer fields. This valuable space at Sellafield is necessary to fuel our continued decommissioning programme. We’re using the extra room to help retrieve, process and re-package historic nuclear waste to make it safe for long term storage and disposal.”

Decommissioning work at Sellafield will take more than 100 years, with the programme stretching out to 2120. Work is currently concentrating on high priority projects where the historic buildings are deteriorating and the nuclear waste is no longer stored to modern standards.

One of the most dramatic demolition projects so far has been the explosive demolition of the 88 m (289 ft) high concrete cooling towers associated with the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall, which ceased generation electricity in 2003. The four cooling towers were safely demolished in September 2007.

Demolition delivery manager Geoff Carver said: “We’re totally committed to cleaning up the Sellafield site and one of our problems is often the lack of space available to build new, modern waste processing and storage facilities for the historic radioactive waste. The demolition of redundant buildings is both cost effective as it saves on maintenance and asset care costs and provides valuable space on the congested Sellafield site.

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