Servelec Controls to upgrade critical handling systems at Sellafield

A photograph of an industrial Sellafield site.
Posted in Latest News on June 11th, 2018

Servelec Controls, a leading independent integrator of mission critical control and safety systems for national infrastructure and utilities, has been contracted by Sellafield Ltd to upgrade its THORP handling systems in order to extend the plant life by many decades.

Following a successful Phase 1 option engineering project for Sellafield, Servelec Controls has been awarded the Phase 2 contract to replace the control system for the THORP Receipt & Storage Inlet Pond Handler at the nuclear facility in Seascale, Cumbria.

Six mechanical handling systems have been identified by Sellafield as requiring an upgrade. Originally designed, constructed and commissioned in the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s, sourcing reliable spares for the 20 year old equipment is becoming increasingly difficult and so they have therefore been deemed obsolete.

Thorp was built in the 1980s to reprocess spent fuel from nuclear reactors in the UK and overseas. Its reprocessing operations end in November this year, when all outstanding contracts are completed. After this, it will continue to receive and safely store fuel from reactors around the country.

The systems scheduled for replacement consist of a range of mechanical handling equipment used to move fuel throughout the facility for reprocessing. Due to the complexity of the upgrades and to ensure due diligence, the six systems are being upgraded one-by-one, with the first being the facility’s Inlet Pond Handler (IPH). It was on this IPH that Servelec Controls successfully undertook Phase 1 of the project in 2016, completing option engineering and requirements definitions for the upgrade. This new contract award for Phase 2 covers the design, implementation, delivery and commissioning support of the IPH replacement control system works.

William Hudson, Sellafield Project Manager said: “We have a very clear mission to deliver at Sellafield. Our task is to reduce the risks and hazards associated with our legacy facilities, to continue to safely manage nuclear materials and waste, and to complete our reprocessing contracts; all while keeping the site safe and secure. This involves treating our suppliers as partners, and as such we ensure that we chose partners that meet the high standards that should be expected in the nuclear industry.”

Servelec Controls’ scope of work will involve replacing the obsolete controls with an upgraded control system which will also be capable of handling a wider variety of loads within the inlet pond than previously. New on-board and off-board control desk facias will be manufactured, to provide operators with optimised indication and the latest control technology. The entire system will be designed and tested to integrate with the existing legacy systems until such a time that they are also replaced, as well as being capable of integrating with a future overall SCADA system.

Servelec Controls’ SQEP assessed staff have many years’ experience of executing projects within the nuclear environment, throughout the full nuclear fuel cycle. Bryn Thomas, Sales Director at Servelec Controls, explained: “Servelec Controls has decades of experience working with such legacy systems and uses migration technology to mitigate risk and provide a long-term upgradeable solution. Our engineers and project managers understand the complexities of creating reverse engineered solutions and removing obsolete systems whilst maintaining site integrity and security.

“As well as providing a robust technical solution for this project, Servelec have given a great deal of time and thought to the project structure and project delivery approach in order to meet all of Sellafield’s needs, not just the technical requirements.  We are proud to offer a project team designed and organised to reduce risk, offer confidence in delivery and provide the capability to deliver all of SL requirements and expectations of this project.”