Spring 2018

Steaming ahead with core business

After nearly two years of detailed design and preparatory work, James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) has reached an important milestone in its major £60million decommissioning contract at Winfrith in Dorset, and is about to commence site activities.

Back in the summer of 2016 Pelican reported that James Fisher Nuclear had beaten competition from top European companies to win a tough competitive tendering process and secure the £60m contract with Magnox, working on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This is still one of the most significant turnkey decommissioning projects to have been awarded in the UK.

Since then, the JFN team has been hard at work developing the technical solutions necessary to remotely segment Winfrith’s redundant Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR) core and handle the resultant waste packages. Because the core is categorised as ‘Intermediate Level Waste’ it has to be handled by remotely operated equipment, which has made this a technically challenging project.

Kerry Bailey, JFN’s principal project manager for SGHWR explains:

‘We’ve made extensive use of 3D modelling systems to develop the design, integrating modifications to the mechanical plant with the equipment required to remotely decommission the reactor core. A key driver throughout has been to utilise a mixture of commercial off the shelf (COTS) systems with bespoke equipment to provide Magnox with the most optimised solution.’

‘To support this methodology JFN is manufacturing some of the specialist tooling and integrating it with COTS equipment to allow development trials to take place over the coming months. Additionally, we have a safety case team working closely with our engineers at JFN’s Bamber Bridge office to ensure every stage of design, construction, commissioning and operations meets the relevant safety standards required for the project.’

‘Site mobilisation activities commenced earlier this year, to support the initial on site enabling works and we are now ready to start breaking ground on site,’

The plan is for the JFN team to work closely with Magnox to ensure its operations team is trained to use the equipment and can safely take the reactor apart. An on-site development facility will be provided to support ‘on the job’ training requirements with JFN on standby to provide technical advice and support.

According to Kerry, the project is progressing towards the end of the detail design stage where Magnox and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are set to authorise the move towards implementation. With this in mind, the team is engaging with its supply chain and integrated teams of specialist sub-contractors are fine-tuning procurement plans.

Winfrith’s SGHWR is just the second nuclear power reactor core to be approved for decommissioning in the UK. It is a prestigious project for JFN and one which represents one of the largest value decommissioning projects to have been awarded in the UK in recent years. In the eyes of the industry, this firmly establishes JFN as the UK’s leading contractor for reactor decommissioning implementation.

Kevin McIntyre, reactors programme manager for Magnox says:

‘Decommissioning the SGHWR is a significant step in dealing with the country’s nuclear legacy. JFN has proven itself as an able and innovative partner. The team has attacked the challenges presented by the Winfrith reactor and put forward innovative, safety focused and cost effective solutions.’

Paul Read, managing director of JFN adds:

'This is a huge project and I’m pleased it is progressing well. We have a strong heritage in this field, as we have been integral in every reactor segmentation project carried out in the UK and we are now taking our skills and experience to a wider market by actively pursuing similar opportunities in Europe and further afield.'

With more than 20 other reactor cores in the UK awaiting a decision on their decommissioning fate, this contract win illustrates market confidence in JFN to deliver the most economic and technically advantageous solutions for the nuclear industry in a safe, environmental and socially responsible manner.

What is Winfrith?


In the 1950s, the Winfrith site was established as a research centre looking into cost-effective ways of generating electricity from nuclear sources. Water-cooled reactors seemed to offer major advantages over the gas-cooled alternatives.

Winfrith’s SGHWR was built in 1967 as a prototype power-producing water-cooled reactor to demonstrate the viability of the system. The only water-cooled reactor ever to be built in the UK, its cooling towers became the Dorset site’s most recognisable landmark.

Over its 23 year life, Winfrith’s reactor demonstrated the reliability of the SGHWR system. It supported a major experimental programme, which provided data, information and experience on the operation and development of water- cooled reactors. It also operated as a power station, earning revenues by feeding electricity into the national grid. In fact it generated enough electricity to power the needs of a small town.

In 1990, it was announced that the SGHWR was to close down and an extensive programme of decommissioning began immediately. This programme will continue until completion in 2023.

Search Pelican




Other articles within Spring 2018

Aiming high in Kuala Lumpur

Strainstall Malaysia has been awarded a major contract to incorporate its structural ...

JF acquires Cowan Manufacturing

James Fisher has expanded its Australian presence with the acquisition of Cowan Manuf...

Cutting demo seals the deal

JFO completes complex cutting trial ahead of large scale Middle Eastern decommissioni...

JFD support for Indian Navy accelerates

JFD has completed the build of the first of its two 3rd generation submarine rescue s...

Making the grade

JFSS was delighted to hear at the end of 2017 that two of its Officer Trainees had re...

Steaming ahead with core business

James Fisher Nuclear has reached an important milestone in its major £60million deco...

Strainstall monitors tension in Vietnam

Strainstall has won a contract to supply its load monitoring system to an innovative ...

Under the surface with: Joe Lawson

We meet Joe Lawson who is spearheading the development of Confident Construction for ...

Ardent-Subtech to the rescue

When a yachts competing in the Clipper Round the World race ran aground at Africa’s...

Lightening the aquaculture load

Scottish aquaculture companies have begun to adopt Scotload’s specialised load-anal...

Focus on quality services in Nigeria

James Fisher moves into Nigeria to expand the group’s portfolio of services to the ...

Saudi partnership for Fendercare Marine

Thanks to a new partnership with GAC Saudi Arabia, Fendercare Marine’s range of pro...

Rumic sees renewal of MoD Overseers contract

Rumic successfully wins the Ministry of Defence Overseers contract renewal.

Cool mud packs a punch for Scan Tech AS

Scan Tech AS in Norway has designed and produced a sophisticated new mud cooling prod...

JFSE makes its mark in India

JFSE has begun work on its longest pipeline trenching project to date – with a 110k...

E.ON blazes path for future offshore operations

E.ON has announced it will be working with the OWMS developed by JFMS at the Humber G...

Top teamwork by the 'Meldrum Mechs'

JFO has been helping to inspire young people considering a future in the marine and o...

Crawling, climbing, scrambling...

JFMS was headline sponsor for the 2018 East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) ‘Only the ...

Academic partnership

JFMS has secured a partnership with the University of Exeter to develop new software ...

University challenge

James Fisher’s visual asset and data management specialist company, Return To Scene...