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Milestone reached for Sellafield Ltd

Dorothy Gradden

One of the UK’s most important nuclear decommissioning projects has taken a giant leap forward.

Workers at Sellafield’s Pile Fuel Storage Pond have now removed half of the solid waste in the facility.

It puts the programme on track to remove almost all radioactive material by 2024.

The work began more than a decade ago and retire one of the UK’s biggest nuclear risks.

Dorothy Gradden, head of legacy ponds for Sellafield Ltd, said: “I’m very proud we’ve kept our retrievals operations going during a very challenging year.

“The dedication and determination of the whole team to deliver this milestone is something we’ll remember for years to come.

“It’s been a massive effort in challenging times from the Sellafield Ltd team and our supply chain partners.

“There’s still a huge amount to do but the experience and techniques we’ve built up should make the second half of the job simpler and quicker.”

The Pile Fuel Storage Pond was built in the 1940s to help produce plutonium for Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Sellafield’s original mission.

It was prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the early 2000s, along with three other Sellafield facilities collectively known as the legacy ponds and silos.

An open-air storage pond, it was used to keep spent nuclear taken from Sellafield’s Windscale Pile reactors.

In 2016, the last of its fuel inventory was retrieved, removing 70 per cent of its radioactive inventory.

Getting solid waste like old equipment out of the pond began in 2010.

There was an estimated 750 tonnes in the facility originally.

The latest milestone means less than 375 tonnes remain.