The Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment was built in 1946 and was the first of its kind in Britain at the time. The site hosts five research reactors of varying types, along with plutonium handling facilities, radioactive laboratories, nuclear waste treatment and storage facilities. But the nuclear site is now well in to a huge decommissioning project, and SCAâ€™s scaffolding team have been called upon to provide the specialist access and containment to allow the safe disposal of radioactive materials.
To allow access to the fuel rods encased by a protective Gunite wall, SCA designed the scaffold structure specifically to cope with huge loadings of both decommissioned materials and demolition plant brought in specifically to break the protective wall. Every level of scaffolding was covered in plywood as specified by the client, and the high level of containment demanded by the nature of the project was provided by SCA ProTectâ€™s heat shrink sheeting. The end result was a multi-layered, bespoke design scaffold giving access to all areas of the reactors, and a superior level of containment to cope with the level of contamination on site.
The controlled removal of the demolished nuclear materials will continue for a number of years, with SCAâ€™s scaffold structure required for the best part of a decade, another factor that had to be considered when designing the structure.
The scale of the project becomes more apparent when you consider the date of the final site clearance is expected to be in the year 2064!