The research into waste at the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS) – the most hazardous legacy storage facility on the Sellafield site – won the Process Safety category in the IChemE Global Awards in Manchester on 3 November.
Sellafield Ltd and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) won for their 4-year study on the viability and safety of storing waste from MSSS in 3m³ boxes.
The research centred on the long-term behaviour of the waste and the corrosion of magnesium and uranium. It confirmed that Sellafield Ltd could move from a 22-step mechanical treatment and encapsulation process, which would have required the construction of a multi-million pound plant, to a simpler and ultimately safer process where the waste is placed directly in a shielded box for storage for decades to come before final disposal in an underground repository.
It means waste retrievals at this top-priority facility will be accelerated by around 4 years.
The research is also paving the way for other nuclear waste material at the Sellafield site to be managed in this simpler and more fit-for-purpose way to accelerate hazard and risk reduction.