Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) / Sellafield

Pcubed was engaged to facilitate the development of a business case to explore options for the treatment and management of Waste at Sellafield, underpinned by a rigorous strategic and economic options analysis.

The Client

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body created through the Energy Act 2004. They are a strategic authority that owns 19 sites and the associated civil nuclear liabilities and assets of the public sector, previously under the control of UKAEA and BNFL. The NDAs purpose is to deliver the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK's civil nuclear legacy in a safe and cost-effective manner, and where possible to accelerate programmes of work that reduce hazard.

The business case was developed through a process of engagement with numerous NDA Delivery partners which included Sellafield Ltd. Sellafield Ltd is the company responsible for safely delivering decommissioning, reprocessing, nuclear waste management and fuel manufacturing activities. The company has sites at Sellafield in Cumbria and Capenhurst in Cheshire as well as an extensive engineering design capability based at Risley in Warrington.

The Challenge

The NDA is undertaking a programme of work to optimise waste processing and storage using NDA estate wide assets. This programme is a key strategic driver for NDA but is reliant upon lead sites to ensure that the appropriate processing and storage infrastructure can support the strategy. The infrastructure options to support decommissioning is an area that needs to be able to provide this broader support across the NDA estate, hence the Sellafield approach needs to be aligned to the NDA waste management strategy. It was critical for the NDA to work with Sellafield Ltd to explore options and to mobilise a credible programme which was supported the key stakeholders.

The following business drivers necessitated the development of the business case and the assessment of alternative Material waste treatment strategies:

  • Future waste treatment facilities should be able to treat a wider range of wastes and avoid the generation of a large number untreatable wastes.
  • Regulatory concerns on risk posed during size reduction for waste decommissioning highlight the requirement not to let the interim waste form drive decommissioning practices.
  • Current planning assumptions in the waste programme that the next waste processing plan will be a Thermal plant need to be challenged and reviewed.
  • Future waste treatment facilities should reduce the extent of secondary waste generated.

The Pcubed Solution

Pcubed engaged with the NDA Delivery Partners, including Sellafield's Waste Management, Decommissioning, Technology and Site Strategy teams, the NDA, Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) to ensure alignment in the initial information gathering phase and ensured stakeholder agreement throughout the process. Information was collated and a baseline was developed whereby 6 various options were compared based on various strategic and economic factors.

Based on this analysis a 5 case business case was developed which ranked the options and recommended the best option to be taken forward including contingency options by:

  • Presenting a review of treatment options for treating waste.
  • Outlining the opportunities presented by introducing a different interim waste form.
  • Identifying the necessary work to support the introduction of the revised waste form.
  • Outlining a phased and gated approach to develop a revised waste generation and treatment approach.
  • Enabling the NDA to consider the implications and recommendations on the wider estate and the national waste programme.

The Business Results

A number of headline benefits were identified if the recommended option was implemented. These include:

  • Savings of between circa £1billion were identified against the baseline.
  • Health and safety risk reduction.
  • Introduction of a new technology which will treat nearly all future waste arisings into a safe and final passive form.
  • Reduction of the volume of treated waste to be stored in interim and final storage.
  • Enablement decommissioning productivity improvements.
  • Improvement in treated product quality and minimise generation of secondary waste.

Pcubed also worked with the clients delivery partners to plan the implementation of the recommendations from the business case.