They have now successfully de-clad 75% of the stored material and are on programme to complete this phase of the work by Christmas.
The team used a remotely operated machine, designed in-house, to strip the stainless steel cladding from the irradiated elements.
The 80 lb elements had been canned and stored in drums following their removal from the reactor during its operational life. The uranium ‘breeder’ elements were arranged in a ring around the reactor core, and were designed to create more fuel than they burned.
Some of the elements had become distorted and swollen during their sojourn in the reactor core, slowing down the rate at which they could be stripped.
The operators found that it could take over a day to remove the cladding from a distorted element, or as little as a few hours if the element was undamaged.
The target was met in spite of a machine breakdown in the middle of the year which was repaired quickly with excellent support from the D2001 workshop team.
DSRL senior project manager Gordon Tait commented that the team were prepared to go the extra mile to deliver on time and get the job done.