BELGONUCLEAIRE has been operating the Dessel MOX plant at industrial scale between 1986 and 2006. In this period, 40 metric tons of plutonium (HM) has been processed into 90 reloads of MOX fuel for commercial light water reactors. The decision to stop the production in 2006 and to decommission the MOX plant was the result of the shrinkage of the MOX fuel market owing to political and customer’s factors. As a significant part of the decommissioning project of the Dessel MOX plant, about 170 medium-sized glove boxes and about 1.300 metric tons of structure and equipment outside the glove boxes are planned for decommissioning. The license for the decommissioning of the MOX plant was granted by Royal Decree in 2008 and the decommissioning works started in March 2009; the decommissioning works are executed by an integrated organization under leadership and responsibility of BELGONUCLEAIRE with 3 specialized contractors, namely TECNUBEL N.V., the joint venture (THV) BELGOPROCESS / SCK·CEN and STUDSVIK GmbH. In this paper, after having described the main characteristics of the project, the authors introduce the different organisational and technical options considered for the decommissioning of the glove boxes, and the main decision criteria (qualification of personnel and of processes, confinement, cutting techniques & radiation protection, safety aspects, alpha-bearing waste management) are analyzed as well. The progress, the feedback and the lessons learned mid 2011 are presented, giving the principal’s and contractors point of view as well.

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