Jacobs selected by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd to study radioactivity in graphite nuclear reactor cores


Jacobs has been selected by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), a subsidiary of the UK government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, to study the release of radioactivity from irradiated graphite sampled from reactor cores at the UK’s nuclear power stations. This research will support RWM in its analysis of graphite behaviour and the options for graphite waste management in the future.

“We are combining our leading graphite knowledge from our Integrated Waste Management team at Harwell, our role as designer and architect engineer of the advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) and Magnox reactors and our work on operational support and life extension,” said Clive White, Critical Mission Solutions Senior Vice President, Jacobs. “Our Technology and Innovation Centre at Birchwood Park, Warrington, is applying this graphite knowledge to work through options for safe and timely characterisation, retrieval, treatment and storage solutions to meet the growing global decommissioning market.”

RWM has commissioned Jacobs to measure and characterise releases of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 and compare it with releases from irradiated graphite in earlier reactor types, including the UK’s first generation of Magnox civil nuclear power stations.

This research will have a significant bearing on the safe management and disposal of graphite waste arising from the decommissioning of 14 AGRs, which generate nearly 20% of the country’s electricity but are due to be phased out over the next ten years.

The contract has an initial duration of two years. Subject to experimental programme results, it may be extended by an additional two years.