Waste monitoring and compaction is a process used to ensure the long term safe storage of Low-level waste (LLW) and thus resulting in the long term creation of engineering jobs in Cumbria. This waste is only slightly radioactive and would include such items as protective clothing, laboratory equipment, paper towels, gloves, items that have been used in the controlled areas of a nuclear site, or in hospitals and nuclear research centres.
Waste Monitoring and Compaction Plant (WAMAC)
Low level waste is treated on the Sellafield site in the Waste Monitoring and Compaction Plant. The waste is placed inside drums which are monitored and then compacted down to a quarter of their original size using a high force compactor working at pressures of up to 2,000 tonnes per square metre. Mechanical engineering jobs in Cumbria are created as a result and these vacancies are in high demand.
These drums called ‘Pucks’ are then placed inside a freight container and transported, usually by rail, to the low-level waste repository at Drigg.
At the repository, the freight containers are infilled with cement before being placed into a purpose-built concrete lined vault.
When the vault is full it is capped with a waterproof membrane and then landscaped.
Future Storage Options
Under the Energy Act 2004, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) became responsible for developing a strategy and plans for Low Level Waste management and disposal. In 2007 a new policy was announced that sets out a more flexible approach for managing solid low level waste, this will include UK-wide strategies for managing low level waste from both the nuclear and non-nuclear industry in the longer term. Securing nuclear jobs in Cumbria and the Lake District for the long term.
The future of the Drigg Repository
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has come to an agreement with Copeland, the borough where Drigg is located, to ensure continuing use of the Drigg facility and thus jobs in Cumbria. Following the award of a contract to UK Nuclear Waste Management Ltd for the future Management and Operations of the Drigg site the NDA now expects ongoing operations at Drigg to continue until 2070. This in turn will ensure ongoing long-term future employment for the wide variety of job skills that are required at the repository, such as engineers in the design, mechanical, electrical fields.