Berkeley's giant boilers removed
THE final boiler has left Berkeley power station, marking the end of an era for the site.
The imposing piece of engineering is the last of 10 boilers to be removed from the South Gloucestershire site.
Engineers from Magnox, the company that manages the plant, worked in conjunction with the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) team, and its main contractor Studsvik, in what management called “a significant milestone in the site’s journey towards care and maintenance”.
The first five boilers were sent off the historic power plant early last year and have now been smelted, with 92-95 per cent being recycled. In total the removal of the 15 boilers means that 4,665 tonnes of waste have been removed from the site.
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Measured end to end, the 15 boilers would reach the top of Cleeve Hill, the highest point in Gloucestershire.
Since 1962, when generation began at Berkeley, the boilers were used like giant kettles to turn water into steam to drive the turbines. After the power station was closed, and as part of a project to lower the reactor safestore buildings, the boilers were removed from their upright position and laid down. The original plans for the site left the boilers in situ until 2074 but the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) granted the site extra funding to remove the boilers earlier than planned.
Steve McNally, Berkeley site director, said: “The early removal of the boilers is a great achievement for the site. It’s not only a huge visual change but also takes the site a step closer to care and maintenance; which is our goal. It also means we have dealt with the waste now, rather than leaving it for the next generation.”
Dennis Thompson, managing director of LLWR, said: “Because we had already piloted the removal of the first five boilers in 2012, we were confident that the removal of the remaining 10 would be accomplished to cost and schedule.
“Tribute should be paid to the excellent execution of the project by the project team which utilises skills and expertise across the four organisations. It really is a perfect example of true teamwork.”
The boilers were removed in groups of two on five separate days through February and March by heavy lifting sub-contractor ALE. They were transported through Berkeley town centre to Sharpness docks. Once at the docks the boilers were loaded on to a barge and taken down the River Severn to Avonmouth.
From there, the boilers were transferred to a sea-going vessel to Studsvik’s own nuclear licensed site in Sweden for treatment.
The Canal & River Trust is responsible for the safe navigation of the boilers through Sharpness Docks.
Nick Worthington, waterway manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We get some of the largest ships on the nation’s inland waterways come through Sharpness Docks and see plenty of interesting cargo, but the boilers probably top the lot.
“It’s a huge operation and we’re happy to do our bit to help the boilers on to the water so they can continue their journey to Scandinavia.”