Step forward at hazardous Sellafield plant

An important step in decommissioning one of the most hazardous plants at Sellafield has been achieved. 

Workers have completed the digging of an underground tunnel connecting the Box Transfer Facility (BTF) to a series of waste stores which will provide a route for the export of radioactive waste retrieved from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS).


The silo, built in the 1960s, contains waste from the early days of nuclear power in the UK and is one of four high hazard plants at Sellafield prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). Waste retrievals are scheduled to start during the early 2020s.

Waste retrieved from the silos will be packaged into three metre cubed boxes and then transferred via the Box Transfer Facility, which is currently under construction, to one of the site’s encapsulated product stores via a network of underground tunnels. The boxes will ultimately be disposed of in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

Richard Dobson, BTF project team, Sellafield Ltd said to in-cumbria: “We worked closely with the Encapsulation Plants and site outage planning team as the work involved breaking through from the BTF construction site into an active transfer tunnel and therefore the work could only be carried out when the sites reprocessing and encapsulation plants were in outage.

“We started the on site physical works in May, which enabled us to prepare the team from Vinci UK as the principal contractor and BD Nuclear, who specialise in these type of cutting operations.”

Mark Kitchinghman, BTF project manager added to in-cumbria: "This key project interface activity was a significant task planned into the recent site outage with considerable interest from the regulator.

"A dedicated team within the project focused on this key interface activity which required detailed coordination and effective engagement of numerous stakeholders”.

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