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Milestone removals from Berkeley power station subterranean vaults

Work is underway to remove intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW) from historic subterranean vaults at Berkeley nuclear power station.

The removal and transfer of this ILW into newly designed concrete boxes before moving it into an interim on-site storage facility is a milestone step in the decommissioning of the site.

This is part of Magnox’s strategy for dealing with legacy waste in a consistent and cost-effective manner across its different sites.

The first concrete box of radioactive waste has now been filled and safely stored at the Gloucestershire site, pending long-term disposal in a future Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

It is expected to take between four and five years to remove the full inventory of waste from the vaults at Berkeley.

ONR has maintained regulatory oversight throughout the planning phase and will continue to do as the retrieval phases progress.

It has also permissioned the use of concrete storage boxes as a suitable container for the transport of the waste from the vaults into the interim storage facility, which have been used at Berkeley for the first time.

Paul Jenneson, ONR’s Berkeley Site Inspector, said: “It has taken many years of planning and work to reach the point of being able to retrieve waste from the vaults and store it in concrete boxes in a modern safe interim storage facility, and I would like to congratulate all those involved in achieving this significant milestone.

“Getting to this stage has been a result of a sustained programme of productive and open dialogue and engagement between the regulator and the licensee, Magnox Ltd.

“Given its success, we expect that Magnox will be able to utilise learning from the novel approach taken at Berkeley to help accelerate decommissioning work at some of its other sites.”

Through its inspection activities, ONR will continue to regulate the work on the site to ensure it remains safe and secure.

Berkeley was the first commercial nuclear power station in the UK to be decommissioned. It came into service in 1962 and after 27 years of operation closed in 1989 and was fuel free by 1992. The site is now proceeding through a carefully planned programme of decommissioning work.

Several key decommissioning activities have so far been completed, including disposing of its 310 tonne boilers and placing both reactors into a safe store state.

The current priority for the site is to remove all legacy wastes and to empty the active waste vaults.