Sellafield legacy and future challenges
Published: 13 Jul 2015
The UK Nuclear industry is one of the most established and advanced in the world, employing around 60,000 engineers and operators. Over the years it has become an international leader in nuclear decommissioning and waste management. Sellafield Ltd is at the forefront of decommissioning projects with global expertise providing innovative and technical nuclear solutions.
In operation since the 1940s, Calder Hall on the Sellafield Site was the first power station in the world to provide the nation with nuclear-generated electricity. The 90s onwards saw Sellafield constructing a comprehensive suite of waste management facilities to treat and dispose of waste from decommissioning operations. The Magnox Encapsulation Plan became operational and today continues to deal with waste encapsulation and in 2002 a higher level waste verification plant was commissioned to convert waste to solid form for long term storage.
The 2000s have seen a great level of activity on the nuclear site, based around the new ownership to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), along with all other civil nuclear sites in the UK. Currently working on a decommissioning plan with work to be undertaken until 2025/26, Sellafield and the NDA aim to make the site and its engineers the obvious choice for future missions.
Training the next generation into a highly skilled workforce is a key step for Sellafield. The strategy for the next decade is to complete the decommissioning cost effectively and sustainably whilst reducing risk. The aim is to repossess spent fuel from stations across the UK and Europe and reduce waste volumes arising out of current activities.
The local Cumbrian community has always been at the heart of the nuclear site - Sellafield will provide local communities with socioeconomic growth, driving employment and education in the nuclear industry. A recent article in The Times stated that Sellafield will drive the “super North” and through vast investments in the area Cumbria hopes to be the global centre of nuclear excellence, building confidence in the industry nationally and globally. Darren Ennis, Head of Media at Sellafield Ltd explains how “ideas about the industry from 30 or 40 years ago are still prevalent, the general public fails to recognise that Sellafield is leading the world in nuclear decommissioning and finding solutions to hugely complex and challenging issues”. Sellafield is a national asset and has been a pioneer for the UK’s nuclear industry, supporting national defence and generating electricity for almost half a century. Given these facts, it’s not surprising that it has become one of the UK's top 10 graduate employers, offering fantastic training programmes and long term career development. As stated by Darren, “We see Sellafield as a national asset with the biggest collection of nuclear expertise in the UK, with 11,000 employees who are immensely proud of the work they do”.
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