News story

Bradwell: first Magnox site to decontaminate underground vaults

Magnox Ltd completes a project that represents a significant reduction in the radiological risk at the Bradwell nuclear site in Essex.

Aerial view of Bradwell nuclear site in Essex
Aerial view of Bradwell nuclear site in Essex

Bradwell is close to the Essex coastline. Electricity generation started in 1962 and ceased in 2002. During its lifetime the site generated nearly 60 TWh of electricity. The site is following an accelerated decommissioning programme and is now more than halfway through a programme of work which should see it become the first reactor site in the UK to enter C&M.

Waste, including metal, sand and sludge, was stored in 18 different vaults during the site’s 40 year operational phase. One of the primary aims of decommissioning has been to safely recover that waste, characterise it and find the most suitable treatment or disposal route.

Scott Raish, Closure Director for Magnox Ltd, said:

This is a real demonstration of the huge steps forward the Magnox team is making to safely deal with the hazards at Bradwell. This work isn’t as obvious to see in the local area as some of the big construction and demolition projects we have delivered, but completion represents a significant reduction in the radiological risk we are managing.

The recovered waste has been monitored and characterised, which has provided the clearest picture yet of the total volume of waste that will need to be managed at Bradwell. Some is being treated in a specially designed dissolution plant, while other types of waste are being conditioned and then packaged ready for interim storage until a national Geological Disposal Facility is available.

With the vaults empty, a total area of 972m² has now been decontaminated to a level where it can be left for care and maintenance – the equivalent of 5 tennis courts. In addition, 3 vessels, each weighing 7 tonnes, have been removed and size-reduced while more than 60 waste vault covers have also been decontaminated. The area will now be covered for the care and maintenance phase before being completely removed as part of final site clearance in the future.

Peter Lutwyche, NDA Chief Operating Officer, said:

Reducing the hazard on our sites is the NDA’s top decommissioning priority. I congratulate Bradwell for becoming the first Magnox reactor site to empty and decontaminate all of its waste vaults. Not only does this step ensure that Bradwell’s waste can be treated and managed safely but the learning gained will also benefit decommissioning at the other Magnox sites. My thanks go to the Magnox team for achieving this milestone.

More information on Bradwell site (Magnox Ltd website)

Find out more about how we manage radioactive waste

Published 29 June 2016