Pile Fuel Cladding Silo

The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield is one of the site’s four Legacy Pond and Silo facilities. We are focused on safely decommissioning these buildings as part of our hazard and risk reduction programme.

Pile Fuel Cladding Silo
Pile Fuel Cladding Silo


Built between 1950 and 1951 the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo is 21m high and, inside, houses six extremely tall waste containers known as ‘silos’.

Commissioned for use in 1952 the facility’s primary role was to receive and safely store radioactive fuel cladding from the military project at Windscale. As Magnox power stations started to generate electricity for domestic use, it also received fuel cladding from the Calder Hall and Chapelcross power stations.

Between 1952 and 1965, flasks of decanning waste (aluminium, graphite, and later on Magnox) were sent to the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo on a road transporter. The flasks were lifted to the east end tower and placed onto a trolley. The trolley took the flask into a shielded antechamber where the lid was removed and the flask transferred to a second trolley.

The second trolley carried the lidless flask into the transfer tunnel where the flask was turned upside down. The waste dropped out of the flask and into the compartment. The flask was then removed, its lid replaced and the flask returned to the Pile Fuel Storage Pond.

The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo has six compartments and now holds over 3,200 cubic metres of intermediate level waste. 

By the mid 1990s, the silo was nearing the end of its intended life. And, like any building exposed to the weather for 50 years, it required care and maintenance. A programme of upgrade work was completed to enable the building to continue to store waste safely, prior to the next task in the programme: to safely retrieve the waste and store it in compact concealed units.