Historic Radioactive Sludge retrieved from 60 year old tank

More than 1000m³ of radioactive sludge dating back to the 1950s has been retrieved from one of the oldest facilities on the Sellafield site, two months ahead of the schedule set out on the Sellafield Plan which was launched this summer.


The achievement represents another step forward in delivering its risk and hazard reduction programme at Sellafield.

The retrieved sludge was a product of the early liquid effluent treatment processes associated with the first reprocessing activities at Sellafield and, until 2005 was stored in 6 large concrete tanks.
The first tank was emptied in 2005 and a further two have been safely emptied since Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) took over the management of Sellafield Ltd.

The sludge has been successfully removed from an aging concrete tank and placed in a modern, high integrity vessel, ready for processing through Sellafield’s effluent plants. The sludge will then be mixed with cement in stainless steel drums and solidified to provide a safe, stable waste form ready for long term storage. This process will take about two years to complete, after which the next tank will be emptied.

Ian Hudson, NDA’s Head of Programme for Sellafield said: “The sludge in the old sea tanks represented one of our main environmental and safety hazards, so retrieval of this material is a big step forward for us all. Though we still have two tanks to empty, we have now got to the point that almost 80% of the radioactive inventory of the facility has been removed. This is good progress against NDA’s key mission of High Hazard Reduction.”

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