Divers working to remove waste from Sizewell A

Materials World magazine
12 Feb 2018

A new project at Sizewell nuclear power station, UK, is using specialist scuba divers over a 10-month period.The decommissioning project at Sizewell A is making use of ‘nuclear dives’ to safely dispose of radioactive waste.

Announced by Magnox, which is responsible for 12 nuclear sites and one hydroelectric plant in the UK, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, a team of American divers is working in the nuclear fuel storage pond.

The first dive focused on surveying the pond floor, transferring sludge into a purpose-built tank, setting up cutting equipment and size -reducing the first of 35 skips, which are classified as intermediate level radioactive waste.

It follows a similar project at the Dungeness A site, Kent, in 2016.

Steve Franks, Sizewell A Site Ponds Programme Manager, said, ‘The scale of work to be delivered by the divers is huge. Although we only have one pond to decommission, the inventory of the ponds is larger than at Dungeness A but we will still be looking to speed up the work wherever it is safe to do so.’

According to Magnox, diving has a lower environmental impact than more traditional methods, and divers can access awkward areas more easily.