Nuclear Operations & Decommissioning


Leading providers of Safety Cases for Nuclear Facilities, and Radiation Protection services, Contaminated Land, Building and Waste Characterisation Services

RPS has over 25 years of experience providing support for nuclear decommissioning on many UK nuclear sites, in both civil and defence sectors.

RPS provides a comprehensive service in safety case development for simple and more complex decommissioning projects, including those with novel and unusual challenges. We are at the forefront of some of the highest priority decommissioning projects in the UK, working with design engineers to develop new approaches which ensure that decommissioning is conducted as safely, quickly and effectively as possible.

Our Radiological Services team provides a comprehensive service for investigation, assessment and remediation of radiologicaly and hazardous waste affected buildings and land. We can work alongside our geotechnical and site investigation capabilities, and our Explosives Engineering team, allowing RPS to provide integrated solutions to deal with sites affected by radiological contamination issues, buried ordnance, explosive, and hazardous chemicals.

As members of the SAFEGROUNDS learning network ( our approach adopts UK best practices, minimising remediation costs.

Our specialist capabilities include:

Safety case advice and preparation for new facilities, operational plants and plants being decommissioned

Radiological risk assessment

Criticality safety assessment

Shielding & Dose Assessment

Fire & DSEAR Risk Assessment

Independent Peer Review services

Environmental Risk assessment

Radioactivity and hazardous waste surveys of land and buildings

Intrusive & non-intrusive building characterisation using Data Quality Objectives methodology

Ground investigations

Groundwater contamination fate and transport modelling.

Case Studies

Dounreay D3200

Dounreay D3200 Enabling Project Site Investigation

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd

RPS were commissioned to characterise the geotechnical and land quality conditions for the Dounreay Shaft and Silo retrieval buildings.

The ground for Dounreay Shaft and Silo retrieval buildings was known to be crossed by drain lines and was suspected of having been contaminated historically by radiological and chemical hazardous material. The geotechnical properties also required definition to facilitate appropriate design of the D3200 building structures.

RPS is expert in the needs of both construction geotechnical investigation and the characterisation of land on radiologicaly and chemically impacted sites. The project was delivered to the required technical standard and within time and budget.

Dungeness A Decommissioning site

Dungeness A Decommissioning site, Dungeness

Magnox Ltd

RPS were commissioned to complete characterisation design and project delivery to permit Magnox Dungeness A plant and buildings to be characterised prior to letting demolition contracts.

RPS designed, carried out and reported a survey and sampling plan based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency Data Quality Objectives process. This approach facilitates the derivation of a robust and defined level of confidence in the waste characterisation statements which can be made for the individual buildings and associated plant.

RPS is expert in the characterisation of both radiological and non radiological hazardous materials. RPS is able to demonstrate the inclusion of the regulatory compliance requirements of all the waste legislation, the application of the Waste Hierarchy and the benefits to be gained from demonstrating that the maximum quantity of waste is suitable for either clearance or exemption from permitted disposal.

Magnox Fuel Storage Pond

First Generation Magnox Fuel Storage Pond

Sellafield Ltd

The First Generation Magnox Fuel Storage Pond was an open air pond constructed during the 1950s.

Due to a lengthy reprocessing shut down, fuel was stored under water for abnormally long periods of time, leading to excessive corrosion of the fuel, causing increased radiation levels. The waste now consists of sludge, Magnox fuel, intermediate level waste, and low level waste. Each of these waste streams needs to be removed and processed through separate routes.

RPS is supporting the retrievals and long term storage project for the waste, with a safety team working in conjunction with Sellafield Limited. We have developed innovative safety case approaches which facilitate safe and effective decommissioning, and allow ready revision as the engineering solution develops.

Magnox Swarf Storage Silos

Magnox Swarf Storage Silos

Sellafield Ltd

Reprocessing of Magnox fuel requires removal of the cladding from the uranium fuel elements – this was stored under water in specially built silos, which were constructed between 1964 and 1983. Other waste is also stored in these silos. Swarf storage results in the release of gaseous hydrogen - the plant design and operations ensure that the heat and hydrogen cannot build up and risk exceeding safe levels.

The silos now need safely emptying and decommissioning, which presents challenges given the variety of wastes to be treated. RPS is supporting Sellafield Ltd by providing safety case support for the facility, as well as support to the retrievals project. We have developed a unique strategy to add defence-in-depth by design of operational and safety management systems to authorise and control the retrievals and waste treatment process. Application across the stream integrates R&D, sampling and waste handling, helping to maximise the retrievals rate – vital to achieve timely hazard reduction.

Pile Fuel Cladding Silo

Pile Fuel Cladding Silo

Sellafield Ltd

RPS is assisting Sellafield Ltd with the safety cases necessary to safely decommission the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo. This facility is over 50 years old and holds over 3,200 cubic metres of intermediate level waste. The next stage in the programme is to safely retrieve the waste and store it in compact units.

RPS supported the preparation of the Operational Safety Case for the silo and its revision as modifications to the facility are made. We are also providing support to enable the safety case to be made for waste retrieval, helping to overcome the facilities specific challenges including high levels of argon gas and working in a congested area.