UK nuclear treatment plant to increase access for European market

Article by Amanda Jasi

NUCLEAR firm Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a non-binding agreement with Perma-Fix Environmental Services for a UK-based state-of-the-art advanced waste materials treatment facility, to expand facilities for the European nuclear market.

According to Perma-Fix CEO Mark Duff, in the UK alone there is more than 5.1m t of waste requiring treatment, including radioactive waste in storage and waste anticipated from decommissioning operations. Sam Shakir, President of Environmental Services at Westinghouse, says the collaboration is to provide Europe with increased access to a full range of treatment capabilities. This would cover characterisation, packaging, consignment and transport, through to receipt, storage, sort and segregation, treatment and final disposal.

The planned facility will incorporate Perma-Fix’ Bulk Processing Unit (BPU) technology, designed to treat a wide range of radioactive materials. The thermal processing unit comprises a large refractory lined oven heated to 1,800°F (982.2°C) to treat both liquid and solid low-level wastes. It accepts a broad range of material and reduces waste volume by 30–100 times, which meets acceptance criteria for European disposal facilities. BPU also eliminates cross contamination.

Westinghouse will own 55% of the facility once the agreement is finalised. The company will host the facility at its Clean Energy Technology Park at Springfields in Lancashire, UK, which brings together a wide range of technologies through collaboration and partnership to create a “one-stop shop” for nuclear materials management.

Perma-Fix will own the remaining 45%.

Duff said: “With the success that our BPU vessel has had in the United States for over two decades, we are eager to bring this technology to new markets, enabling more plants globally to enhance their capabilities when it comes to handling radioactive waste removal […] We look forward to working closely with Westinghouse and leveraging our track record to provide safe treatment options for some of the world's most challenging waste streams.”

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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