Bechtel-led Team Delivers Radioactive-Waste Retrieval Modules for UK Nuclear Site

A crane lifts the waste retrieval system into place at the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo, Sellafield site in England. Credit: Bechtel Cavendish Nuclear Solutions

The kit to remove nuclear waste from Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield, one of the most hazardous stores in Europe, is now in place.  The Bechtel-Cavendish joint venture team completed the work under budget and ahead of schedule.

RESTON, Va. and LONDONMarch 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A Bechtel-led team has delivered a waste retrieval system, under budget and ahead of schedule, that will help the UK clean up a structure known as one of Europe’s most hazardous buildings. Following final commissioning, the robotically operated system will help scoop up and package radioactive debris from a vertical compartment in the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at the Sellafield Site in northwest England.

“This waste storage vault has been an environmental risk for decades, and reaching this milestone is a terrific achievement,” said Clive Billiald, Bechtel’s project manager. “Credit to the teamwork of contractors, suppliers, and the Sellafield Site workforce to engineer a solution and put it all in place. The site is now a huge step closer to retrieving this waste.”

The retrieval modules are now installed on a platform against the side of the silo structure nearly 60 feet above ground level. The system includes an extending, remote-operated retrieval arm, heavy doors with airtight seals, a waste loading area, and air quality monitoring. The system is very complex because oxygen must be kept to a minimum to prevent a fire in the silo. Inert argon gas has been pumped into the PFCS for decades.

Once repackaged, the waste will be taken to long-term, safe storage.

Bechtel Cavendish Nuclear Solutions Ltd designed, made, tested, and installed the retrieval system for customer Sellafield Ltd as part of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s cleanup program. Building and initial testing took place at a shipyard in Rosyth, Scotland so that changes could be made without interrupting work at the crowded Sellafield Site.

Waste from early military and commercial nuclear programs

It’s been 55 years since the UK stopped placing debris into the silo’s six vertical chambers. The waste includes pieces of empty metal tubes that once held uranium fuel for the UK’s early military and commercial nuclear program. Final testing of the retrieval system is expected to finish by mid-2019, 17 months ahead of schedule and about $125 millionunder budget. Retrievals will initially begin on chamber 5, with a pause for lessons learned and a decision on the other five in due course.

Learn more about the new waste retrieval system:


About Bechtel:

Bechtel is one of the most respected global engineering, construction, and project management companies. Together with our customers, we deliver landmark projects that create long-term progress and economic growth.  Since 1898, we’ve completed more than 25,000 extraordinary projects across 160 countries on all 7 continents. We operate through four global businesses: Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; Oil, Gas & Chemicals; and Mining & Metals. Our company and our culture are built on more than a century of leadership and a relentless adherence to our values, the core of which are safety, quality, ethics, and integrity. These values are what we believe, what we expect, what we deliver, and what we live.

SOURCE Bechtel

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