The decommissioning of major nuclear plant facilities will inevitably involve a number of project areas where significant levels of processing and manufacturing tasks are required. Typically this includes key task areas such as: • ILW materials retrievals and handling; • ILW / LLW materials processing and encapsulation; • Contaminated surfaces remediation; • Import of materials at dedicated ILW Stores. All such areas involve a series of high level project stages: 1) Design, install and commission facilities; 2) Operate facilities to complete the project tasks (retrievals, processing etc); 3) Post Operative Clean Out and final removal of plant and buildings. The time periods involved with the second (operational) stages have, in many cases, planned durations that are measured in terms of years rather than months. Variations in achieved performance levels can have a much higher impact on the project completion dates than is often appreciated. Given that material processing operations often constitute key critical path elements of the wider site decommissioning timing plans, it follows that any delays are likely to extend site completion dates and can incur costs at a rate of many millions of pounds per year. This paper outlines the often unforeseen risks inherent in the processing/manufacturing activities in this phase of decommissioning and identifies the typical root causes and issues that contribute to operational losses. This paper holds that many of these risks can be largely anticipated and mitigated in the design stages if an operational perspective is applied with appropriate tools. Since many of the projects involved in decommissioning have singular and challenging engineering requirements there is a heightened need to focus on potential processing issues from the earliest project stages. Therefore project phases from initial concept design right through to successful completion are considered. The text details a range of operational improvement methods and techniques (along with illustrations from specific projects) that are increasingly being adopted to mitigate the risks of significant project delays and overspend in the nuclear sector. Importantly, these tools are underpinned by realistic operational data to guide and support project and engineering decisions. This approach has been effectively deployed in a number of strategically important projects within the current BNFL and BNFL Environmental Services decommissioning programs. This paper argues that despite the levels of general engineering and technical excellence found within the Nuclear Industry, there remains a need to encompass ‘best practice’ methodologies from other industries. Specifically, this paper argues for the increasing adoption of manufacturing improvement methodologies that have been successfully developed in other industries (notably the automotive, pharmaceutical and technology sectors) to promote robust designs that subsequently deliver effective and efficient plants. This paper holds that these techniques can be successfully incorporated into process dependant decommissioning projects, and that, without utilisation of such methods, the taxpayers of countries participating in these programmes are unlikely to get value for money.

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