Harwell Southern Storage Area


Value: £8.0 million

This 7-hectare area of the Harwell facility, adjacent to a primary school, was originally used as a World War 2 ammunitions storage area by the RAF and subsequently for storage, treatment and disposal operations by UKAEA.

The works included the careful excavation of 170,000m³ of spoil, under a strict monitoring regime to ensure the final land forms were free from unexploded bombs and waste materials. Strict dust, vapour and odour controls were utilised with constant monitoring at the boundaries to prevent nuisance.

The main hazards were associated with waste products dumped in disposal pits, which totalled 4,000m³ in four separate pits. The contamination included hazardous chemical waste, a wide variety of isotopes including plutonium, uranium and strontium, together with beryllium oxide, which has harmful characteristics similar to those of asbestos. This was removed in a containment cell subject to constant filtered air extraction to eliminate airborne contamination.

Extensive planning was required together with full safety case approval by UKAEA prior to commencement on any activities on-site.

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