Sellafield collaboration makes its mark

The Design Service Alliance (DSA) is an alliance between Sellafield Ltd, Cavendish Nuclear and major contractors in the nuclear supply chain to provide support to a wide range of decommissioning-related projects at the site.

Cavendish Nuclear leads the Progressive Alliance team which is delivering design, engineering and safety case services to Sellafield under the Design Services Alliance (DSA) framework.


Much of what we do at Sellafield has never been done before. So we need to cast the net wide for the knowledge and skills needed to complete projects safely and successfully.

The Design Services Alliance (DSA), which marks its ninth anniversary this month, has created a collaborative partnership between Sellafield Ltd and five of the world’s leading providers of engineering and technological solutions.

Establishing the DSA was a recognition that Sellafield Ltd depends on support from its supply chain partners, including a network of smaller suppliers who support projects with many types of products and services.

The power of collaboration was especially evident on the Sellafield Product and Residue Store Retreatment Plant (SRP) project, where Cavendish Nuclear are the DSA lead and where preliminary and detailed design had to be completed much more quickly than the industry norm.

The design team of 180, drawn from 16 organisations, was fully integrated with no demarcation between employing company. The wider context and need for ‘a plant that works to the last package’ was shared with every individual.

A team charter of collaborative behaviours was agreed, and the success of the project was measured against the charter on a monthly basis, with team members of all disciplines and grades invited to give their open and honest feedback.

“Throughout my time with this team there has always been a ‘One Team’ ethos. I’ve never been able to distinguish between organisations and have always experienced a single team focused on delivering this key risk reduction project.”

James Millington, SRP project’s ‘customer’

Close collaboration with integrated DSA design engineering teams working at Hinton House and at Vertex in Whitehaven – for example on design and manufacture of the In-Pond Manipulator – has enabled Legacy Ponds to move from care and surveillance into sustained waste retrieval.

But the transition to final clean up and de-watering to make PSFP ready for remediation and, eventually, demolition, will require collaboration between frameworks to move up a level.

“The greatest challenge I can see for the DSA is to find ways to work more closely alongside the Decommissioning Delivery Partnership to provide a design and build service. The DSA partners have built up a huge amount of tacit knowledge and we need to ensure that this knowledge and expertise can be used going forward within a wider variety of contract arrangements.”

Richard Greenwood, Legacy Ponds Design Manager

The DSA expects to be working more collaboratively with other delivery frameworks in the future, bringing its tacit knowledge and agility in deployment to help build a single integrated and robust supply chain.