TRADEBE Inutec has contributed to the successful treatment of Fuel Element Debris (FED) waste at the former Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex. The FED waste had been considered a major source of intermediate level radioactive waste at this site. The treatment and disposal of the Bradwell FED waste is a significant step towards the planned closure and full decommissioning of the facility, as part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) mission to clean up and decommission one of the UK’s earliest nuclear sites.
The waste mainly consists of pieces of the magnesium alloy cladding that surrounds the Magnox nuclear fuel. 65 tonnes of FED waste was treated in an on-site ‘dissolution plant’ designed to dissolve the material in acid, separating the radioactive materials and reducing the volume of the solid waste by more than 90 per cent.
More than half of all FED waste at Bradwell was reclassified as Low Level Waste (LLW), in a first-of-a-kind collaboration between TRADEBE Inutec, management and operations contractor Magnox Ltd and the Low Level Waste Repository Ltd (LLWR). More than 140 tonnes of FED have now been sent to TRADEBE Inutec as LLW for treatment and eventual disposal at LLWR – saving around two years of dissolution operations.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Chief Executive, David Peattie, said: “This is another really important milestone and a huge step forward in cleaning up and decommissioning the UK’s earliest nuclear sites.”
“Finding new solutions and techniques to deal with radioactive waste is helping us to do things more quickly and efficiently, making our sites safer sooner and providing best value for the taxpayer. I would like to thank everyone involved in delivering this successful programme.”
The result of the collaboration is a reduction in the hazard on the site and shortening the FED treatment project by more than a year.