Magnox Berkeley Active Waste Vault Crane

Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is a long term project with many phases. Often, radioactive material will need to be temporarily transported and securely stored for periods of time before further processing can commence.

The challenge

As part of the decommissioning of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station, a method of transporting intermediate level waste (ILW) storage skips into the restrictive and compact dimensions of a specially designated buffer store facility was required.

The limited headroom and storage channel depths of 10m required a purpose-built solution that could transport the stackable skips of contaminated material safely and securely.

The solution

SCX Special Projects engineered, built, and installed a 7-tonne SWL crane to collect and store the active waste skips.

This semi-automated mechanical handling system features an ultra-low profile hoist unit, enabling the system to operate within the confined space, while it’s bespoke grab delivers safe stacking and recovery of the loads within the deep channels.

Multi-layered safety systems

  • Anti-drop stops, side guidance rollers, and dual hoist braking systems ensure that no single point of failure can jeopardise operational integrity
  • The handling system is monitored with operational and ultimate safety interlocks, functioning within independent circuits of the control system
  • This ensures that should a fault develop in the primary circuit, the hardwired ultimate limits protect the whole system from dangerous operation


Smooth, accurate motion

  • The four-rope system ensures a completely stable level lift, irrespective of non-uniform loading
  • Load cells measure storage skip weight during lifting and signal the hoist to stop when overloaded above its safe working load capacity
  • Two variable speed drives provide long travel motion, with multiple control limits to prevent over-travel


Precision control

  • The handling system is operated from a remote-control station equipped with CCTV, enabling operation from a safe location while maintaining complete situational awareness
  • Inverter drives and absolute encoders ensure long travel positional accuracy of ±3mm
  • A bespoke electromechanical grab with a 10m true vertical lift capability of the hoist allows for ease of operation when stacking the skips


Let's talk more about nuclear decommissioning cranes.

The nuclear sector demands levels of safety and integrity that is rarely (if ever) found in commercial-off-the-shelf lifting equipment. As safety cases become increasingly demanding, especially to keep humans away from harm, new and innovative handling solutions need to be developed and deployed.

We have decades of experience in engineering nuclear decommissioning cranes - and importantly, they do it safely. Talk to us today.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199