A key phase in a major hazard reduction project at Sellafield has been successfully delivered by a UK supply chain consortium.

Cavendish Nuclear, working with Bechtel and operators of the Rosyth Dockyard, successfully installed the sixth and final heavy-duty door that will unlock one of the most complex clean-up projects at the site.

The company says the complex engineering project demonstrates the ability of the UK supply chain to collaborate on some of the most challenging nuclear jobs anywhere in the world.

“It’s a fantastic achievement, for us, our partners, for Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, delivered by extremely hard work and dedication” said Paul Smith, managing director of UK Projects at Cavendish Nuclear, the UK’s largest nuclear services business.

“The importance of this to Sellafield and the NDA should not be underestimated. This is a flagship project for the UK nuclear industry a great advert for Cavendish Nuclear and the UK supply chain.”

The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo is one of Sellafield’s ‘big four’ legacy storage facilities, containing highly radioactive debris from the earliest nuclear programmes of the UK.

The successful design, testing, manufacture and installation of six huge doors on the exterior of the building is a key step towards the beginning of waste retrieval and eventual decommissioning of the facility.

The silo is filled with inert argon gas as a fire retardant, creating a unique engineering challenge to design a system for retrieving the waste while maintaining a sealed atmosphere.

It has taken years of planning, design, precision manufacturing, testing, commissioning and installation by the fully integrated project team comprising of the customer Sellafield Ltd, Bechtel Cavendish Nuclear Solutions (a joint venture between Cavendish Nuclear and Bechtel) and the operators of Rosyth to get these doors manufactured and installed.

The planning and design was done in Daresbury, with the manufacture and testing carried out at the Rosyth.

At its peak the project team was over 100 strong, made up of the necessary disciplines and mind-set to “get the job done”.

Each door weighs 12.4 tonnes (the equivalent of around 150 grown men) and now all six are installed, it’s the most visible sign yet of progress towards preparing for waste retrieval to begin.

Completion of this phase will allow attention to focus on making the penetrations into the silo itself.

Over the coming months, the Bechtel Cavendish Nuclear Solutions team will commence commissioning of the doors and the installation of the remote access penetrations unit with hole cutting planned for the end of February.