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It's all boiled down to this...

Nearly 18 months ago the town of Berkeley came to a standstill as the final 310 tonne boiler left the near-by decommissioning nuclear power station. This month marks the end of the Berkeley boilers half century life span as the final piece of the last metal giant is smelted at Studsvik’s specialist facility in Sweden, with only around 3% of secondary residues to be returned to Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) for final disposal early next year.

Simon Bedford, Magnox Project Manager, said: “This marks the end of a huge hazard reduction project for Berkeley site.  Our aim is to reduce risk and cost associated with the Magnox decommissioning programme through innovative approaches and this was no exception. By working collaboratively with Studsvik and LLWR, we were able to achieve a very positive outcome recycling around 95% of the boilers back in to the metal market. We are always focused on delivering value to the NDA and the UK taxpayer and this work is an example of how we are leading the way in UK nuclear decommissioning at our sites.”

The project began back in 2011 when Studsvik was appointed the main contractor to LLWR Ltd on behalf of Magnox for the removal, transport and treatment of the first five of fifteen boilers from the Berkeley site.  The preparatory work began late 2011 and first boiler was lifted on 1 March 2012 with all five boilers being off-site and in Sweden by 6 April.  Treatment of the boilers began at Studsvik’s facilities in mid-April and the final boiler was treated by the end of the year.  Following on from this achievement, in November 2012 Studsvik was subsequently awarded the contract for the final 10 boilers at the site.

Studsvik worked with subcontractors to transport and treat over 4000 tonnes of metal in less than 36 months, saving in excess of 5500 cubic metres of space at the LLWR, the equivalent of 291 half height ISO containers. This is a huge achievement and is evidence of direct application of the government waste hierarchy and an excellent example of technology and collaboration combined in the ultimate recycling project.

The final boiler was transported through Berkeley town centre to Sharpness docks on 15 March 2013.  Once at the docks it was loaded onto a barge and taken down the river Severn to Avonmouth and on to a sea-going vessel to Studsvik’s nuclear licensed site in Sweden for treatment.

In September, Studsvik hosted a commemorative event in recognition of the huge success of the Berkeley boilers project.  Key individuals and stakeholders involved in the project were invited to Studsvik’s nuclear licensed site in Sweden to witness the treatment of the last of the 15 boilers that were removed from the Magnox Berkeley site in 2012 and 2013.  During the visit, representatives from Magnox and LLWR were presented with engraved plaques that Studsvik had fabricated from completely free released steel from the recycled Berkeley boilers.

The group, which included Studsvik, Magnox and LLWR personnel, undertook a tour of the boilers journey at the site in Studsvik, starting at the harbour where the boilers arrived, before visiting the specialist large components storage hall, the cutting booth and finally moving to the melting facility where the final treatment process takes place. During the tour the guests were able to witness the last remaining portion of boiler 15 being size reduced and sectioned then shot blasted and eventually being sent to the furnace for the final melt. 

The Berkeley boilers project has had many successes, however the most tangible is the sheer amount of metal recycled at the Studsvik facility, saving valuable space in the LLWR and contributing significantly to the implementation of the UK Government’s National LLW Policy.