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UK's 'first' nuclear scrap metal recycling plant opened

The UKs first nuclear scrap metal recycling plant has opened in Lilyhall, West Cumbria.

Opened by Swedish decommissioning service provider Studsvik, the plant was opened on 6 May and should be actively commissioning from mid-July.

Furthermore, it is the first site to be granted a nuclear license in 20 years.

Studsvik UK president Mark Lyons said: We were given the license because there was an obvious need for this plant. Before, the metal would just be disposed of at the Low Level Repository in Drigg but now it can be cleaned up to be used as normal scrap metal.

The plant deals with low-level radioactive metal ranging from structural material to pipe work, which comes from any site in the nuclear industry. At the plant the metal is cut down to a specific size in order to be treated effectively. A grip-blasting technique removes the surface of the metal to decommission the metal.

Sensitive equipment is then used to measure the radioactivity of the metal to determine whether it is clean or not. Clean metal is used as normal scrap metal but if it is still contaminated, the metal will either be disposed of or shipped to plants in Sweden for further cleaning.

Lyons said: We dont deal with a large amount of metal it will be about three or four thousand tonnes per year - but there is a huge environmental benefit from recycling the metal rather than making it from scratch.

The specialist facility came about after Studsviks success with plants in Sweden and the United States. There are no plans to build any others in the UK as this plant can serve the whole country.

It will start the commissioning process once final health and safety checks have been approved.

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