One of Europe's largest cranes was in action at Sellafield over the weekend as British Nuclear Group installed a major piece of equipment essential for the clean up of its pile fuel storage pond.
The crane was used to install the 20t Local Effluent Treatment Plant (LETP) in the 55-year-old pond to reduce radioactivity during sludge retrievals in the 14,000m3 of water, cleaning up discharge levels by as much as 75 times. The LETP module is capable of cleaning up 125m3 of pond water each day, accelerating the sludge retrievals programme and significantly reducing employees' exposure to radiation. The module was fully assembled off site by Chorley-based contractor NIS Ltd and will be lifted directly into the pond to reduce overall installation and commissioning time. Preparation work by the project team has been underway for several months, including the successful removal of four skips from the pond, preparing the pond floor for the new equipment and carrying out rigorous safety checks prior to the module's installation. A British Nuclear Group spokesman said: 'The crane has been a noticeable addition to the Sellafield skyline as it has been working to achieve a major milestone in the continued progress of clean-up activities in the site's legacy ponds. The lift itself was successfully completed within a day, and work is underway to install support services and remaining equipment for the LETP. The target date for bringing the plant online is the end of this year.