National Nuclear Laboratory


Monday 22 April 2024

Our customer collaborations continue to bring success

NNL is committed to using its earnings to reinvest in science and technology to bring benefit to society. Through our long-established collaborative approach, our work in Environmental Restoration aligns with Sellafield Ltd., the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and defence sector priorities. Together, we develop the technologies to meet the nuclear industry’s challenges.

Our collaborative relationships in this field are key to continued success. Central to this is the unique long-term collaboration agreement NNL and Sellafield Ltd have held since 2017, which has saved the UK taxpayer over £7bn since 2008. Each year, we produce the Public Interest Reinvestment Contributions to Environmental Restoration report, which throws a spotlight on investment into people, skills, science and technology to enhance the already well-established UK capabilities in this area.  

The report provides many great examples of the impact of the work carried out over the last year, case study highlights include:

  • Development of a potential solution for remotely accessing highly active vessels, which would enable hazard and risk reduction. A Tiger Team was formed with colleagues from Sellafield Ltd, NNL and Framatome BHR to design and create a fully functioning remote cutting and plugging prototype ready for active plant trials.
  • Underpinning knowledge to support establishment of a toolkit for the UK’s GDF safety case, providing a justification around the integrity of the waste. Resulting from improvements in mechanistic understanding of high-level waste.
  • Building knowledge and understanding in how to improve the decontamination of nuclear facilities, and subsequent waste management. We support PhD students working on research significant to environmental restoration, through NNL’s decontamination and decommissioning science and technology theme.
  • Provision of both a safe testing ground for technologies and a place to grow UK capability in the field of hot robotics. Through development of the National Nuclear User Facility Hot Robotics facility at NNL’s Workington Laboratory, which has laser cutting, sort and segregation, a flexible decommissioning cell and a water dive tank.

The value generated goes beyond purely financial. Our work also improves the safety of operators as well as attracting and building talent. It delivers quality science, develops important partnerships and has real impact. This year’s report spotlights our people as well as our science.

NNL’s Vice President of Legacy Sites, Wayne Muckley, said,

“When we reflect on the thriving partnerships NNL has cultivated over the years as the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, one thing is abundantly clear; it is not just about what we do and how we do it, but also who we do it with. The strength of our partnerships with organisations such as Sellafield Ltd and the NDA and its operating companies is a testament to our commitment to working collaboratively, taking responsibility to deliver a step change in environmental restoration of the UK’s nuclear legacy.”

Robin Ibbotson, Chief Technology Officer at Sellafield Ltd, added,

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, reducing waste and minimising the environmental impact from the nuclear legacy and our nuclear future. We are custodians of our planet for a short time and the impact we have can have on our home is huge. We are all incredibly proud of the collaborative relationship we have established with NNL and the way the teams work together, not just thinking about what we do but how we do it, makes me exceptionally proud. These are values we all share as people and organisation, that is hugely encouraging to see the collaboration in this area.”

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