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Winfrith: Life After Decommissioning — Nuclear Site to Science and Technology Park

[+] Author Affiliations
Alan Neal

UKAEA

Paper No. ICEM2003-4639, pp. 725-730; 6 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2003-4639
From:
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME

abstract

UKAEA’s Winfrith site was built in the late 1950’s to undertake research and development into electricity generation from nuclear power. Pioneering scientific and technical work was carried out which resulted in a better understanding of nuclear issues, particularly nuclear safety. At its peak, Winfrith employed 2000 staff and at one time had nine operational nuclear reactors. The most noticeable landmark being the Steam Generating heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR) which, when in operation, provided the National Grid with enough electricity for a small town. In the early 1990’s the UK Government wound down its programme of nuclear R&D, and work started on restoring the environment of the Winfrith site by the progressive removal of the nuclear facilities. Winfrith has always been considered to be one of three key sites in Dorset for development of quality employment, and the site management, with the support of the DTI, decided to undertake a programme of environmental restoration that retained appropriate buildings and infrastructure systems that could be put to alternative long term use. To date, successes have been achieved in both the decommissioning work and also the establishment of tenants. All the fuel has been removed from the nuclear reactors and five reactors have been completely dismantled. Decontamination of other facilities has been completed. A notable example of this work is the return of a fuel fabrication building to a green field site. Another example was the decommissioning of a building that contained gloveboxes, and laboratories equipped with high efficiency filtered ventilation systems. This building was decommissioned, the area of land containing it delicensed, and the building leased to non-nuclear tenants. This thorough, painstaking process involved the use of recently developed industry techniques and required close working with the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). The tenant base is growing and at the end of 2002 there are 40 different companies resident on site with employee numbers ranging from 1 to several hundreds with a total of ∼ 1000 staff. In addition, the UKAEA programme employs ∼ 500 as staff and contractors. The larger tenants include QinetiQ and DSTL (both from the former Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), the Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and RWE Nukem. The progressive decommissioning work continues and as UKAEA retreats across the site, from east to west, the non-nuclear research and development businesses move in. The range of work established at Winfrith provides a focus for its further development as a scientific and technical centre of excellence. Facilities have been created in partnership with the local council for small and start-up businesses, while strong links are being encouraged with universities that have an interest in areas such as environmental research. Together they will form a vital part of the commercial community, stimulating growth through technical interaction and innovation.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME

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