Enhanced operational capability delivered on the Magnox Berkeley Vaults Retrieval Programme

Cavendish Nuclear has achieved another significant milestone in the Berkeley Active Waste Vaults Retrieval (AWVR) Programme with completion of the R3 Project and handover of the facility to Magnox.

The Berkeley AWVR Programme, comprises a number of discrete projects that provide Magnox with the capability to retrieve, process and package historic Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) stored in three subterranean vaults at the Berkeley Site in Gloucestershire.

The handover of the R3 facility, which forms part of the programme, provides Magnox with enhanced operational capability that will allow containerised ILW waste to be processed and packaged for the first time.  The capability provided by R3 represents a significant milestone in the Magnox mission to decommission the Berkeley site. 

Handover of R3 concluded an eight-year programme that covered project delivery from concept design through to completion of inactive commissioning.  During this time, Cavendish Nuclear also implemented the Modifications for Encapsulation (M4E), which provides Magnox with the capability to handle and package waste in Reinforced Concrete Boxes (RCB) as well as Ductile Cast Iron Containers (DCIC).

Following handover of the R3 facility, Cavendish Nuclear continues to provide specialist head office and site based technical support to Magnox during active commissioning and commencement of waste retrieval operations.  This support includes delivery of a comprehensive operator training programme.

Chris Barnes, Magnox Project Manager, said, “One of the major contributors to the project and team’s success at Berkeley has been the extent to which the Cavendish Nuclear site team was able to develop good relationships with their Magnox counterparts, maintaining open communications while all supporting each other working toward the same goal.”

Neil Windram, Cavendish Nuclear’s Site Construction Manager said, “This has been a truly exceptional project and a privilege to be a part of. The project was delivered without a lost time accident.  This exemplary Health and Safety performance is a result of the mutual trust and collaboration demonstrated by the Cavendish Nuclear and Magnox teams.

“The R3 installation was complex and included lifting modules weighing up to 40 Tonne over the site security fence.  These lifting operations were executed safely and to programme.”

Dave Thomas, Cavendish Engineering Manager, explains the innovation delivered as part of this project, “To achieve the project requirements for waste container packing density, the R3 plant uses a low speed high torque shredding machine for size reduction operations. This is an innovative and extremely efficient size reduction method not widely used within the nuclear industry.”

The next steps for the R3 project following this successful handover is for Magnox to lead the final pre operational commissioning operations, with the plant planned to enter fully active operation later this year.