Jacobs Supports Hundreds of Nuclear Programs Worldwide at Existing Facilities, Decommissioning Sites and Next Generations Systems
Jacobs – the global technology-forward solutions company – draws on decommissioning experience from the world’s most challenging nuclear sites including Chernobyl, Fukushima, Savannah River, and Sellafield. It has developed a waste-informed decommissio-ning approach which is the key to safer, faster, and cheaper restoration of nuclear sites. Our experience has enabled Jacobs to draw many important lessons about the management of nuclear decommissioning projects.
Some of these are summarised below.
- Enhanced understanding of the various waste streams through early and robust characterisa-tion, as well as identification of its provenance requires a comprehensive suite of waste characterisation tools and the ability to tailor these techniques to individual projects and site regulatory requirements. Jacobs uses intrusive sampling operations, fingerprint derivation and in-situ measurements from a range of materials, including reactor bio-shields, concrete, metals, sludges, fuel element debris and ion exchange resins. To provide full-range sample analysis, Jacobs operates one of the largest radiochemistry laboratories in the U.K. ANSWERS®, Jacobs’ proprietary software suite for reactor physics, radiation shielding, dosimetry and nuclear criticality, is key to modelling the performance of radioactive materials in order to inform decommissioning strategy.
- Radioactive waste management processes need to be aligned to the waste hierarchy so that the option to divert waste from disposal is available where practicable. Effective appli-cation of the waste hierarchy at the UK’s Low Level Waste Repository has extended the life of the facility by 100 years and saved the tax-payer £2 billion.
- Data quality objectives provide a systematic planning approach to establish project accep-tance criteria and create a detailed sample and analysis plan. This determines the quality and quantity of data required, meeting regulatory requirements.
- An innovative approach to radiological characterisation techniques can improve safety and ensure a quicker results turnaround. To monitor radiation in storage ponds at Sellafield, Jacobs has developed a specially adapted remotely operated vehicle (ROVs) and underwater in-situ gamma spectroscopy to detect leaking radioactive sources. Where areas are inaccessible due to safety constraints e.g., height or dose expo-sure, Jacobs uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to survey both external and internal areas through an exclusivity agreement with Texo Drone Survey & Inspection Ltd (Texo DSI) for the UK Nuclear sector.
- A detailed inventory leads to reduced lifecycle costs for radioactive and controlled waste management and decommissioning as a whole and gives stakeholders confidence that waste management decisions are based on realistic data. Data management is required at every stage, using geographic information systems (GIS) to analyse and manage the data, which can be shared for collaboration through maps and apps. This allows the decommissioning programme to plan, adapt and maintain safe operations.
- Optimisation of each step in the decommissi-oning process will avoid repetition, which can generate excessive quantities of secondary waste. Secondary wastes can often be reduced to 3-5% of the mass of the primary wastes.
- Pre-treatment decontamination processes, both on-site and off-site, are a key tool in waste volume reduction. These include:
- Surface decontamination by intrusive shot blasting or simple manual wiping
- Chemical decontamination e.g. electro- chemical baths and handheld pads to decontaminate vessels and circuits
- Scabbling, either manually or using remotely operated equipment, to remove contaminated material from surfaces
- Strippable coatings used to tie down contamination onto surfaces
- Size or volume reduction of irregular shaped items to maximise packaging efficiencies within waste containers. This is usually achieved using cutting, incineration, smelting and compaction.