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Progress and Experiences From the Decommissioning of the Eurochemic Reprocessing Plant

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert Walthéry, Patrick Lewandowski, Bart Ooms, Nancy Reusen, Wim Van Laer

Belgoprocess, Dessel, Belgium

Paper No. ICEM2009-16022, pp. 31-37; 7 pages
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Volume 2
  • Liverpool, UK, October 11–15, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4408-3 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3865-X
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Belgoprocess started the industrial decommissioning of the main process building of the former EUROCHEMIC reprocessing plant in 1990, after completion of a pilot project in which two buildings were emptied and decontaminated to background levels. The remaining structures were demolished and the concrete debris was disposed of as industrial waste and green field conditions restored. The Eurochemic reprocessing plant operated from 1966 to 1974 to process fuel from power reactors and research reactors. The main building is a large concrete structure, comprising a surface area of 55,000 m2 , concrete volume 12,500 m3 , and 1,500 Mg of metal components. The building is divided into multiple cells. About 106 individual cell structures have to be dismantled, involving the removal and decontamination of equipment from each cell, the decontamination of the cell walls, ceilings and floors, the dismantling of the ventilation system. Most of the work involves hands-on operations under protective clothing tailored to each specific task. Tool automation and automatic positioning systems are successfully applied. In view of the final demolition of the main process building, the main process building has been divided into three parts — each part is isolated from the others. In September 2008 the eastern part of the building has been demolished. The paper presents a status overview of the decommissioning and decontamination activities at the main process building of the former Eurochemic reprocessing plant on the nuclear site of Dessel in Belgium. The specific BELGOPROCESS strategy will be highlighted, in which the decommissioning activities are carried out on an industrial scale with special emphasis on cost minimisation, the use of technology on an industrial representative scale and the specific alpha contamination of equipment and building surfaces, requiring that the decommissioning work is done with adequate protective clothing. Also specific breathing and cooling air systems have been provided to allow the operators to carry out the decommissioning tasks in acceptable working conditions.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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