Belgoprocess started the industrial decommissioning of the main process building of the former Eurochemic reprocessing plant in 1990, after completion of a pilot project. Two small storage buildings for end products from reprocessing were dismantled to verify the assumptions made in a previous paper study on decommissioning, to demonstrate and develop dismantling techniques and to train personnel. Both buildings were emptied and decontaminated to background levels. They were demolished and the remaining concrete debris was disposed of as industrial waste, and green field conditions restored.
The main process building is a large rectangular construction of about 80 m long, 27 m wide and 30 m high. About 106 individual cell structures have to be dismantled, involving the removal and decontamination of equipment from each cell, the decontamination of the cell walls, ceilings and floors, the dismantling of the ventilation system. These activities are followed by a complete monitoring of all surfaces in view of the unconditional release of the remaining structures. About 1,500 Mg of metal structures, and 12,500 m3 of concrete with 55,000 m2 of concrete surfaces have to be removed and/or to be decontaminated.
The paper presents a status overview of the decommissioning and decontamination activities at the former Eurochemic reprocessing plant on the nuclear site of Dessel in Belgium. The specific Belgoprocess approach will be highlighted, in which the decommissioning activities are carried out on an industrial scale with special emphasis on cost minimisation, the use of technology on an industrial representative scale. The specific alpha contamination of equipment and building surfaces require that the decommissioning work is done with adequate protective clothing. Adapted breathing and cooling air systems have been provided to enable the operators to carry out the decommissioning tasks in acceptable working conditions.