The UK’s Magnox Ltd announced on 21 June that fuel element debris (FED) waste at the Bradwell NPP has now all been treated to reduce the radiological risk at the site, as a step towards closure of the plant. Some 65 tonnes of FED was treated in an on-site 'dissolution plant' where the waste was dissolved in acid, separating the radioactive materials and reducing the volume of the solid waste by more than 90%.
FED waste is a major source of intermediate-level waste (ILW) at Bradwell, comprising pieces of magnesium alloy cladding that surrounds Magnox nuclear fuel. Magnox Ltd, which is owned and operated by Cavendish Fluor Partnership on behalf of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), said innovative techniques and unique solutions were used to manage the waste in a first-of-a-kind collaboration between Magnox Ltd, the Low Level Waste Repository Ltd (LLWR) and specialist subcontractor Tradebe-Inutec. "The result is a reduction in the hazards on the site and shortening the FED treatment project by more than a year," Magnox noted.
Following treatment, more than half of the FED was reclassified as suitable for disposal as low-level waste (LLW), and more than 140 tonnes have now been sent to Tradebe-Inutec as LLW for treatment and eventual disposal at LLWR.
The demolition of the used fuel ponds complex at Bradwell has also been completed, Magnox announced. The redundant buildings were decontaminated over four-years so that they could be taken down using conventional demolition methods. The remaining buildings will be enclosed in weatherproof cladding in preparation of care and maintenance during which they will be kept in a passively safe and secure state. This will allow radiation levels to decay naturally over time, simplifying decommissioning at final site clearance.
Bradwell's two 125 MWe Magnox reactors operated from 1962 to 2002. The site is following an accelerated decommissioning programme and is now more than halfway through the work. The reactors were defuelled by the end of 2005 and all fuel was removed from the site. The turbine hall was demolished in 2011. In June 2016, Bradwell became the first Magnox site to empty and decontaminate all of its underground waste storage vaults.