Sellafield Ltd Projects Hit The Ground Running Post-COVID Lockdown

In June the restart of Sellafield Ltd’s two major security upgrade projects marked a landmark moment in our post-lockdown activity.

It meant that for the first time since 23 March, all Sellafield’s major projects had teams back on their construction sites.

It’s an important step as the company returns to building the structures and laying the infrastructure integral to the critical missions – all working under new COVID-19 arrangements.

But what are these major projects and what are our teams doing now they have returned?

Sellafield Security Enhancement Programme

The last of our major projects to restart construction activity were the Main Site Command Facility (MSCF) and the Site Security Architecture Upgrade (SSAU).

Both of these are integral parts of our unified command and control programme, which will bring agencies together to work in a coordinated way in the event of an emergency or crisis.

The MSCF will be the main hub for activity – offering a safe, digitised place for any unified security and resilience operations, emergency response and recovery.

The upgrade to our security architecture brings in the systems which will be the eyes and ears of our command and control.

It includes sensors, communications networks, and power across the Sellafield site, data storage, and the tech inside the facility which will keep track of all this.

The teams back on-site have already had some success in the first fortnight.

Key computer systems have been successfully repowered, ensuring there was no loss of data (or ‘tombstoning’) during their lockdown-enforced shutdown.

Recognising that space on the Sellafield site car parks will soon be at a premium again, the team has cleared a construction laydown space to provide 50 spaces for the returning team.

This will help minimise the effect elsewhere on the return to work on-site.

Both the MSCF and SSAU will see increases of staff on their sites in coming weeks, and the cyber project will also start work this week.

Head of the security enhancement programme Kevin Bell said: “We’ve seen some great teamwork to get the welfare cabins set up with new measures for COVID-19 on the sites to enable the return of our construction teams.

“Everything has worked well to ensure we could do the vital work to close out the key risk to our computer systems, and we’re confident we can continue to return our teams to construction safely.”

Box Encapsulation Plant Product Store – Direct Import Facility (BEPPS-DIF)

BEPPS-DIF was the first of our projects to return to construction and paved the way for others with a ‘lead and learn’ philosophy.

It was this project which tested out new safety arrangements and distancing in a lockdown world.

Since restart in May the project has ramped up the numbers working on the site.

Work done since has included test stacking of waste stillages up to nine high in its vault, controlling and moving the bogie which actually brings packages from the DIF to the store, and installing electrical equipment.

The next steps are to work to understand how delivery can be supported working within the limited resources that can be on the site at one time.

To overcome these challenges, the project team are focusing on how working arrangements can be optimised and how the approach to close working tasks can be adapted to allow the continued safe delivery of critical path activities.

SIXEP Continuity Plant (SCP)

Since restarting construction work, the project has moved its construction office and brought in safety measures in line with COVID-19 requirements.

On-site, teams have removed two skips of asbestos-contaminated spoil, and remediated asbestos-contaminated equipment.

They are now getting ready to bring more people safely on-site, planning the start of bulk spoil removal from the site in July, and sheet piling in August – which will pave the way for main civils work to start on-site in the autumn. Sellafield Product and Residue Store Retreatment Plant (SRP)

Since restart, teams that have returned to the SRP site have been concentrating on the concrete pours to make the main building foundations ready.

Two of their concrete pours have the majority of rebar installed and rebar operations are ongoing on two more significant concrete pours with COVID-19 arrangements in place.

The workforce have made strong progress with steel fixing activities. This has been done through good engagement with the safety reps and workforce which has found ways to minimise the close proximity.

Where it cannot be avoided then coming up with safe methods to do the job to enable safe close proximity working.

The project is continuing to ramp-up and start the preparation works to install new welfare facilities and work within its tactical plan envelope to increase scope and resources to progress works over coming months.