A semi-goliath crane has been installed by Sellafield Ltd UK, as part of a new nuclear waste retrieval facility (WRF), which is being built alongside the pile fuel cladding silo (PFCS).
The crane will be used to lift 3 cubic metre legacy nuclear waste packages onto road transporters.
The PFCS was built in 1951 to store radioactive fuel cladding from the military Windscale Piles and later from Calder Hall and Chapelcross reactors. It is 21 metres tall and is made up of six separate compartments with a total capacity of 3,440 cubic metres. The compartment acts like a concrete safe. To remove the radioactive waste, the concrete walls are going to be broken through.
The semi-goliath crane weighs 109 tonnes and has undergone various tests, including load and works testing, at a site in Gateshead. The crane has a 63 tonne safe working load and a design life of 20 years. It cost GB£3 million (US$4.5 million) to make and due to its complex crane design it took several years before it was produced.
Neil Crewdson, head of PFCS projects, said, “We’ve had to bring in a 350 tonne capacity mobile crane to build our crane at Sellafield. The semi-goliath arrived in 12 separate lorry loads and was erected over two weeks in an extremely tight space. The team had to carry out the delicate job with surgical precision in order to ensure the safety of the legacy waste silo and its radioactive contents.
“The workforce had to cope with extremes of weather, including snow and high winds, but still managed to complete the job ahead of target. The crane will now be placed under a care and maintenance regime until the rest of the retrievals facility has been completed and we’re ready to start handling the historic waste.”
Paul Foster, NMP executive director for Sellafield Ltd, Decommissioning said, “There’s a complex jigsaw of pieces that need to be in place to decommission the 1950s pile fuel cladding silo and erection of the semi-goliath crane means we can now see the picture on the box.
“We have a responsibility to the local community around Sellafield to carry out the decommissioning programme safely and with respect to the environment. We are pulling out all the stops to construct the waste retrievals superstructure, to design and build the waste retrievals modules and to better characterise the radioactive waste contained in the silo to meet this commitment.
“It’s another example of the substantial progress we’re making in high hazard and risk reduction at Sellafield by safely accelerating our decommissioning programme and driving towards the earliest possible date for clean up.”