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Storage of Nuclear-Powered Submarine Reactor Pressure Vessels

As part of their Submarine Dismantling Project, the Ministry of Defence are tasked in providing a safe, environmentally responsible and cost-effective solution for dismantling the UK’s nuclear-powered submarines after they have left the active service of the Royal Navy.

In 2015 Urenco Nuclear Stewardship were selected by the Ministry of Defence as the preferred site for storage and management of the de-fuelled and decommissioned Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPV).

Currently the project includes 27 RPVs and, given some of the components will require storage until such a time as geological disposal is available, this will be a long a long-term radioactive waste storage mission.

On commencement of the storage contract, Urenco Nuclear Stewardship will provide the long-term storage and management of the RPV on the Capenhurst site until a disposal strategy is agreed.

In addition to the eventual storage of the items, we are currently supporting the Ministry of Defence in their development activities to identify the most appropriate course of action to solve the challenges associated with the transport and dismantling of such large reactor components.

Phased Demolition of a Former Gaseous Diffusion Plant

The former Gaseous Diffusion plant is one of a series of integrated structures designed and constructed in the early 1950s at Capenhurst. Production at the plant ceased in the early 1980s and since then, the various structures have been undergoing a programme of different stages of refurbishment, decommissioning and demolition. The purpose of this current project was to finally demolish the building and leave the area in a safe, remediated state, with hazards removed to allow the land to be developed at a later date for further industrial use.

Significant radiological surveys have been completed over a number of campaigns, ensuring that Urenco Nuclear Stewardship has comprehensive characterisation data prior to commencing works, supporting a safe and proportionate approach and managing the diverse risks that exist within a facility of this nature.

Challenges overcome during the project delivery:

  • Modification and updates to the Safety Case to manage the transition between Operations and Decommissioning works
  • Waste Disposal and Environmental Protection, taking opportunities to progress bulk disposal options with LLWR
  • Maintaining a proportionate Security Strategy and ensuring a proportionate Design Plan
  • Health, Safety & Environment aspects addressed by the team including a robust and thorough application CDM2015 Duty Holder Positions
  • Managing services diversions for poorly defined and complex ageing assets
  • Managing key hazards which included: radiological, criticality, biological, working at height and asbestos.


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