History Of Sellafield

Brief Sellafield History

The Sellafield site was originally occupied by ROF Sellafield, a Second World War Ordnance Factory, which with its sister factory, ROF Drigg, produced TNT. After the war, the Ministry of Supply adapted the site to produce materials for nuclear weapons, principally plutonium, and construction of the nuclear facilities commenced in 1947.

The site was renamed Windscale to avoid confusion with the Springfields uranium processing factory near Preston. The two air-cooled graphite-moderated Windscale reactors (the Windscale Piles) were constructed for the production of weapons grade plutonium-239 for use in the British nuclear weapons programme of the late 1940s and the 1950s, the accountancy vacancies in Cumbria were a very welcome boost to the region’s economy.

Windscale was also the site for the prototype British Advanced gas-cooled reactor. With the creation of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in 1954, ownership of the Windscale site passed to the Authority application for temporary jobs at sellafield went directly to the site as recruitment agencies in Cumbria did not exist and an accountancy recruitment agency in Cumbria was yet to arrive.

The first of four Magnox reactors became operational in 1956 at Calder Hall, adjacent to Windscale, and the site became known as Windscale and Calder Works. Following the breakup of the UKAEA into a research division (UKAEA) and a production division, British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) in 1971, the major part of the site was transferred to BNFL.

In 1981 BNFL’s Windscale and Calder Works was renamed Sellafield as part of a major reorganisation of the site, the first official accountancy and finance jobs in Sellafield were created and applications were sent for both temporary and permanent jobs at Sellafield.  The remainder of the site remained in the hands of the UKAEA and retained the name Windscale.

Since its inception as a nuclear facility Sellafield has also been host to a number of reprocessing operations, which separate the uranium, plutonium and the fission products from spent nuclear fuel which has meant the CV’s from good quality chemical engineers are always in demand and their skills are highly sought. The uranium can be used in the manufacture of new nuclear fuel. The plutonium can be used in the manufacture of mixed oxide fuel (MOX) for thermal reactors, or as fuel for fast breeder reactors, such as the prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay in Scotland.

Current Sellafield Operations

There are numerous ongoing operations on the Sellafield site including:

• Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP)
• Windscale Vitrification Plant (WVP)
• Magnox reprocessing Plant
• The Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP)
• Nuclear Waste Management
• Sellafield Waste Packaging and Encapsulation Plants
• Waste Monitoring and Compaction Plant (WAMAC)
• Enhanced Actinide Removal Plant (EARP)
• Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage (HALES)

Current Sellafield Decommissioning Projects

The major decommissioning projects being undertaken at Sellafield are:

• The Windscale Piles
• Windscale Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (WAGR)
• Calder Hall Power Station

The Sellafield complex has provided ongoing continuous employment and jobs vacancies for a wide range of careers in Science, financial and Management accounting since its early MOD (ROF) days of 70 years ago.

The current Sellafield operations and decommissioning projects will ensure that these career opportunities remain available for many years in the future with some decommissioning projects expected to continue for another 50 years.

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