AMEC NNC, under contract to the UK Environment Agency, recovered a number of redundant aircraft hatches from an insecure location in North Wales. The Environment Agency instigated emergency action under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93), (1), to recover the hatches. Section 30(1) of RSA93 gives the Environment Agency powers to dispose of radioactive waste where it is unlikely the waste will be lawfully disposed of. Funding for this project was provided by the UK Government, within the Surplus Source Disposal Programme. The Environment Agency worked closely with partner regulatory organisations including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Local Authority to ensure the safe packaging, removal and transport of the material to a part-shielded store pending final disposal. The project comprised a number of technical difficulties that needed to be overcome. These included poor existing characterisation of the waste, insecure premises requiring daily lockdown, construction of a temporary containment facility with associated filtered extract and the inclement weather. AMEC NNC’s initial risk assessment identified the likelihood of high levels of loose, airborne radiological material. In order to provide adequate protection for personnel, and to prevent the spread of any radioactive contamination, the decision was made to implement radiological containment and to equip contractors with appropriate RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment). Accurate characterisation of the radiological nature of the material was a crucial objective within the project. This was in order to correctly identify the Proper Shipping Name for consignment for transport, and to ensure that suitable transport containers were used. The packaged wastes were then transported to a secure location for temporary storage prior to final disposal. An innovative route was identified for processing of this material. Beneficial recycling and re-use within the nuclear industry was the outcome.

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