Enhanced Operational Capability Delivered On The Magnox Berkeley Vaults Retrieval Programme

Cavendish Nuclear has achieved another significant milestone in the Berkeley Active Waste Vaults Retrieval (AWVR) Programme with completion of the R3 Project and handover of the facility to Magnox.

The Berkeley AWVR Programme, comprises a number of discrete projects that provide Magnox with the capability to retrieve, process and package historic Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) stored in three subterranean vaults at the Berkeley Site in Gloucestershire.

Chis Barnes, Magnox Project Manager, receives the R3 project final documentation and plant keys from Dave Thomas, Cavendish Engineering Manager, at the socially distanced formal handover

The handover of the R3 facility, which forms part of the programme, provides Magnox with enhanced operational capability that will allow containerised ILW waste to be processed and packaged for the first time.  The capability provided by R3 represents a significant milestone in the Magnox mission to decommission the Berkeley site. 

Handover of R3 concluded an eight-year programme that covered project delivery from concept design through to completion of inactive commissioning.  During this time, Cavendish Nuclear also implemented the Modifications for Encapsulation (M4E), which provides Magnox with the capability to handle and package waste in Reinforced Concrete  Boxes (RCB) as well as Ductile Cast Iron Containers (DCIC).

The completed R3 facility

Following handover of the R3 facility, Cavendish Nuclear continues to provide specialist head office and site based technical support to Magnox during active commissioning and commencement of waste retrieval operations.  This support includes delivery of a comprehensive operator training programme.

Chris Barnes, Magnox Project Manager, said,

“One of the major contributors to the project and team’s success at Berkeley has been the extent to which the Cavendish Nuclear site team was able to develop good relationships with their Magnox counterparts, maintaining open communications while all supporting each other working toward the same goal.”

Neil Windram, Cavendish Nuclear’s Site Construction Manager said,

“This has been a truly exceptional project and a privilege to be a part of. The project was delivered without a lost time accident.  This exemplary Health and Safety performance is a result of the mutual trust and collaboration demonstrated by the Cavendish Nuclear and Magnox teams.

“The R3 installation was complex and included lifting modules weighing up to 40 Tonne over the site security fence.  These lifting operations were executed safely and to programme.” Dave Thomas, Cavendish Engineering Manager, explains the innovation delivered as part of this project, “To achieve the project requirements for waste container packing density, the R3 plant uses a low speed high torque shredding machine for size reduction operations. This is an innovative and extremely efficient size reduction method not widely used within the nuclear industry.”

The next steps for the R3 project following this successful handover is for Magnox to lead the final pre operational commissioning operations, with the plant planned to enter fully active operation later this year

The Berkeley Active Waste Vaults (AWV) Retrieval ProgrammeThe Berkeley Active Waste Vaults (AWV) Retrieval Programme comprises the design and installation of mechanical handling and processing equipment required to retrieve historic Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from three subterranean vaults on the site.  The AWV Retrieval programme comprises a series of discrete projects, the last of which is scheduled for completion during mid-2021.

Cavendish Nuclear has been involved in the Berkeley AWV Retrievals programme since 2010. 

Cavendish Nuclear adopted a modular build strategy for the AWV Retrievals facilities, which maximised off-site assembly and testing and provided effective mitigation of the cost and programme risk associated with conventional construction and commissioning on a Nuclear Licensed Site.