National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

The next step for radioactive organic waste treatment at Sellafield…

The next step for radioactive organic waste treatment at Sellafield…

A collaborative Arvia™ and National Nuclear Laboratory project to treat oils and solvents contaminated with high levels of alpha radiation is funded by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.

Arvia and the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) have been granted funding to deliver a collaborative project by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, in an initiative that is supported by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  The project aim is to use Arvia’s proven technology to destroy oils and solvents which are contaminated with high levels of alpha radiation, currently located at the Sellafield site.

Over the last 12 months Arvia and NNL have been developing their relationship and planning how their distinct sets of capabilities could be brought together to deliver a project of real benefit to the nuclear industry.

Arvia and NNL will work together to test the proven Arvia process on wastes which have no current disposal route.  Key decision makers at Sellafield Ltd. have already shown interest in this project as they look to safely undertake decommissioning and nuclear waste management.

David Louden, Waste Strategy Manager at Sellafield Ltd. is keen to see the project outcome: “The NNL/Arvia proposal… is of strong interest to Sellafield Ltd. and I look forward to discussing the results.”

Similarly, Debbie Keighley, Head of Technical Capability at Sellafield Ltd., expressed interest: “Plutonium contaminated oils and solvents are stored on the Sellafield site and are not currently treatable using conventional techniques. The Arvia process therefore offers significant potential benefits for our industry.”

NNL estimate that upon successful completion of the project, implementation of the Arvia process could lead to multi-million pound savings for Sellafield Ltd. and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns the Sellafield site.

Barney Whyte, Business Leader Waste and Residue Processing at NNL, was similarly pleased at the collaboration: “this project will help pave the way to solving a wealth of waste problems here in the UK and further afield. Our goal is to assist in the development of solutions to some of the most pressing concerns for the nuclear industry and in undertaking this project we hope to move closer to solving this particular issue.”

There are 230,000 tonnes of ILW waste in the UK alone, with around 5% being organic.  This challenge is not confined to the UK nuclear market; around the globe there are significant volumes of waste organics that have gone untreated due to inadequate or non-existent waste treatment options.

It is therefore expected that key waste liability owners, decision makers and influencers worldwide will keep a keen eye on this project as it develops, and as it proves a viable solution for the international nuclear waste management community.

Martin Keighley, CEO of Arvia, was excited by the potential of the venture: “This project will enable us to establish our technology’s capabilities to solve a major problem for the nuclear industry. I’d like to thank the Technology Strategy Board, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and NNL for their support in assisting us to make this project a reality.”

Arvia is “at the forefront of offering solutions to some of the Planet’s most pressing environmental challenges”. The company offers a unique, proven treatment process for the destruction of liquid organic wastes.  This project will look to provide a commercial solution that satisfies the nuclear industry’s requirements for safe disposal of a hazardous waste stream.

TheUK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is a leading nuclear technology services provider. With world-class R&D facilities and over 10,000 man-years of collective experience across the whole nuclear fuel cycle, NNL is ideally placed to help customers deal with a wide range of technical challenges.

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.  Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit