Sellafield Ltd’s transport of highly active waste (HAW) has departed the UK.

The waste arises from the reprocessing of those customers’ used nuclear fuel at Sellafield.

A single 113te flask, containing 28 stainless steel containers of solid HAW, was transported from the Sellafield site, on a specially constructed rail wagon, to the port of Barrow-in-Furness.

It was then transferred on to a Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) vessel Pacific Sandpiper which departed yesterday for Japan. The voyage is scheduled to be completed in the first half of March 2010 and will travel via the Panama Canal.

Mike Johnson, Director of Waste and Effluent Disposition for Sellafield Ltd, said: “This work, known in the UK as Vitrified Residue Returns programme, will deliver on the Government’s policy and contractual obligations for return of waste to overseas customers.

“It demonstrates the ability of our workforce to safely prepare and deliver this material for transport, while meeting the most stringent national, international, and customer requirements.”

Ian Hudson, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Sellafield Programme Director said: “The commencement of this first return of high level waste to overseas customers is a significant milestone in meeting our contractual commitments and delivering on Government policy. The delivery of this programme is a prime example of high quality team working across the NDA estate.”

All of the transports of HAW to Japan will be delivered by International Nuclear Services and its subsidiary, PNTL. PNTL has operated ships that travelled for more than five million miles without any incident involving the release of radioactivity.

In 2007 PNTL completed a programme of 12 similar HAW transports to Japan for the French nuclear industry.

Mark Jervis, Managing Director of INS, said: “The waste is being transported by sea which is a tried and tested method that is safe and secure, highly regulated and internationally approved.

“Japan will be the first customer to receive its HAW from the UK. The detailed arrangements for the transport have been put in place through discussions with customer and regulatory bodies in the UK and Japan.”


For more information contact Sellafield Ltd’s press office:

Ben Todd
01925 834431/ 07738 039640