Sellafield Clean Up Success

The clean up operation at Sellafield, Cumbria will boost engineering jobs.

For a few years now it has been apparent that the long-term future of Sellafield in Cumbria has been at risk. But now, one of Sellafield’s most significant, long-standing environmental risks has been cleaned up and announced secure by health and safety officers on the site. Management at the West –Cumbrian plant had been worried that the ecological problem could have led to a reduction in applicants for it’s hundreds of engineering jobs which it offers: a life source for the West-Cumbrian economy.

Approximately 95 percent of the radioactive material stored in a 50-year-old concrete waste tank, associated with the historic flocculation plant, has been removed and placed in a modern high integrity tank to prepare it for final treatment and encapsulation into a safe and long-term stable waste form. Mechanical, nuclear, design and chemical engineering vacancies, among others, will now be open for applicants and current jobs in the engineering field will also be protected.

“With this milestone achievement, we have successfully reduced one of the primary environmental hazards associated with Sellafield,” said Ian MacPherson, Head of Manufacturing for the Effluent Plants, who led the testing project.  “The tank has held waste for more than a half century.  It was gradually degrading and presented a known environmental risk.  Through great teamwork and perseverance we have securely retrieved and stored the sludge and now have it programmed for final disposition – a great achievement for the workforce at Sellafield.”

“This has been a great job by the entire team,” said Mike Johnson, Executive Director, and Production Operations Manager at Sellafield. “They epitomise the site’s commitment to reducing the high-hazard legacy of the site. The lessons they’ve learned and the technical solutions they’ve demonstrated will be applied across the site for future risk reduction and waste remediation projects.” These new projects are already under way and will provide continued improvement of the health and safety standards at the nuclear power station. This is vital to the long-term future of Sellafield, as health and safety and green energy becomes of paramount importance. Of equal importance is the constant and increasing requirement of jobs in Cumbria, in particular engineering (Be it mechanical, design, chemical or other) and skilled professions.

Ian Hudson, NDA Sellafield, Programme Director, added his congratulations to the project team:  “Tackling the high hazard legacy issues at Sellafield is a key focus of the group. The success of this project demonstrates the benefit of blending the world leading capability of the site’s new management team with the existing world-class technology and workforce at Sellafield.  Throughout this effort, the team demonstrated persistence and creativity to overcome the many technical challenges they faced.”

The next step in the process is to have the material, known as ‘sludge’ within the industry, processed through the site’s Low Active Effluent Treatment Plants where it will be encapsulated in concrete and stainless steel ready for long-term storage. A large and skilled workforce will be needed for this process, again producing more vacancies within the Cumbrian borders and escalating the requirement of engineers in the region.