There are three types of nuclear waste; low level, intermediate level and high level waste. This programme covers the treatment and storage of intermediate level nuclear waste at Sellafield.
An integrated nuclear waste management programme is in place at Sellafield which seeks to reduce waste volumes arising as part of current commercial activities as well as historical operations, ensuring that waste is stored safely, minimising the risk to the public and environment.
Early waste management activities involved the storage of untreated waste from the first generation reprocessing operations associated with the military programme which took place at Sellafield during the 1950s. Waste arising from the programme was historically held in ponds and silos with no plans for future treatment and disposal.
Intermediate level waste (ILW) includes materials such as fuel element cladding, contaminated equipment, radioactive sludge and plutonium contaminated material that arises from both historical and current operations.
At Sellafield, ILW is put into stainless steel drums, which are then filled with cement grouting before being placed into a special above-ground storage facility on the site.
The task today is to retrieve and process this material as well as manage the arisings produced as part of the ongoing decommissioning of historical and redundant plants at Sellafield alongside waste produced from current reprocessing activities.