During the operating life and initial decommissioning of Hunterston A, wet (mobile) intermediate-level waste (ILW) accumulated and must now be retrieved, processed and immobilised, in order to complete the decommissioning. The sludge needs to be pumped through to a process canyon where it is contained within ILW handling 3m3 Nirex drums, which must then be removed from site.
SCX provided a series of bespoke equipment to create a complete handling solution for the entire process.
SCX’s bespoke sludge retrieval rig lowers the sludge removal pump via a chain fed from a 1.25-tonne chain hoist. Capable of then slewing through 180° to access the full interior of the bays, the system is mounted on a carriage which traverses the width of the bay on rails.
Once the sludge is removed, a bespoke lifting frame with a 3.2-tonne hoist then lifts the entire arm and carriage system out of the bay where it is washed down by a spray ring and then traverses across to the next bay to continue the process. A tailor-made storage frame houses the rig when not in use.
Meanwhile, SCX’s semi-automatic 10-tonne waste handling crane brings the empty 3m3 Nirex drums into the process canyon and sets them down into pre-determined start positions with a repeatability of ±5mm.
The drums travel the length of the canyon on a conveyor as they are filled and sealed with the pumped-out waste. The crane then removes them from the process canyon and deposits them into a cross-site transport (XST) vehicle. The entire operation is overseen from a remote control room complete with CCTV.
The specially designed lifting grapple, created by SCX for the handling of both 3m3 Nirex ILW drums and boxes, incorporates a unique four-pole twist-lock grapple that is controlled and monitored by a series of limit and proximity switches.
A main ‘floating’ actuator controls the twist locks, but in the event of a failure, a secondary recovery actuator overrides the first, ensuring the load can be appropriately set down before the system is retrieved from the containment area for maintenance.
The crane is a modular design, developed by SCX for use in the handling of nuclear ILW packages in both process plant applications and long-term storage solutions throughout the nuclear decommissioning arena.
Absolute laser measurement provides a positional resolution of ±1mm, and the crane incorporates a recovery winch system so it can be rescued from the containment area in the event of long travel failure.