BELGONUCLEAIRE has been operating the Dessel MOX plant at an industrial scale between 1986 and 2006. During this period, 40 metric tons of plutonium (HM) have 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 due to political and commercial factors.

As a significant part of the decommissioning project of the Dessel MOX plant, about 170 medium-sized glove-boxes and about 1.200 metric tons of structure and equipment outside the glove-boxes are planned for dismantling.

The license for the dismantling of the MOX plant was granted by Royal Decree in 2008 and the dismantling started in March 2009. The dismantling works are carried out by an integrated organization under leadership and responsibility of BELGONUCLEAIRE; this organization includes 3 main contractors, namely Tecnubel N.V., the THV (‘Tijdelijke HandelsVereniging’) Belgoprocess / SCK•CEN and Studsvik GmbH and TRACTEBEL ENGINEERING as project manager.

In this paper, after having described the main characteristics of the project, the authors review the different organizational and technical options considered for the decommissioning of the glove-boxes; thereafter 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.

Finally the progress, the feedback and the lessons learned at the end of August 2013 are presented, giving the principal’s and contractors point of view.

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