ACORN appointed to support Sellafield HAWTT programme
Following-on from the successes of our leadership and team coaching work at the Sellafield and Low Level Waste Repository sites in west Cumbria, we are delighted to have been appointed to work with the Higher Active Waste Thermal Treatment (HAWTT) project.
HAWTT is a waste treatment project which Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) are hoping will make a significant contribution to the reduction in waste volumes and, in turn, help to realise the ambition of the UK Nuclear Sector Deal in achieving a 20% reduction in decommissioning costs by 2030.
The existing method of storing waste materials is to encapsulate them in ‘grout’, a high-performance cement-based material which effectively contains the contaminated material inside 200-litre drums.
Chris Mounsey, HAWTT Programme Manager, comments in the May 2021 edition of the Direct Services Alliance News Alliance: “If you encapsulate wastes in grout, you generally end up with an increase in volume. If you thermally treat the waste, here is often a volume reduction. This means you don’t need as many packages, and you don’t need to build as many stores.”
Cutting the volume of waste will also reduce the need for storage space and associated monitoring of the waste packages, therefore leading to savings for the UK taxpayer.
A team from Cavendish Nuclear Ltd are working with the HAWTT Programme Manager from Sellafield Ltd, with the project supported by National Nuclear Laboratory and the NDA.
Thermal treatment of waste features in the NDA Strategy (Effective from March 2021) where the case study comments: “We continue to work with Sellafield Limited to address cultural and technical challenges, and together we have developed a clear route to implementation of these technologies.”
Thermal treatment is not an entirely new technology and Sellafield’s own vitrification plant has itself been processing some wastes since the 1990’s.
Acorn Founder Keith Longney comments: “There has justifiably been a lot of interest in the HAWTT programme at Sellafield and understandably so. If these early pilots prove successful, both in practice and the supporting business case, then there is genuine scope for thermal treatment to become part of the long-term strategy, with massive potential for time and financial savings across the NDA’s estate.”
The scope of Acorn’s involvement will include coaching – both one-to-one and team coaching – and leadership, utilising Acorn’s proven Five Dimensions of Teams coaching model.
“As well as Cavendish Nuclear, there are a number of SMEs bringing their invaluable expertise into the HAWTT programme, so this is very much a multi-organisational joint venture. Each partner, client included, will be used to their own approach and culture, and Acorn have been introduced to unify everyone under a primary purpose that will be a benchmark throughout.”
“Having everyone engaged and focused may seem like the obvious first step for project team but, from our experience both here in west Cumbria and across other industry sectors, the challenges faced in the realm of nuclear decommissioning put even greater significance on starting a project on the right footing and sustaining that vision – the primary purpose – through until completion.”
Acorn’s appointment for the HAWTT programme signals their involvement in another headline project at the Sellafield site. In recent years, Acorn’s involvement has included team leadership, one-to-one coaching and performance for multi-disciplinary collaborative teams constructing the Silos Maintenance Facility, the Programme and Project Partnership model, the joint venture team at B30, the Sludge Packaging Plant (SPP1), Vault 9 and the Evaporator D Project.
More latterly – and very much a project which was heavily impacted and influenced by the UK Nuclear Sector Deal – Acorn supported the LLWR leadership team and key contractor NSG Environmental Ltd on the Plutonium Contaminated Materials (PCM) programme. Completed four years ahead of original schedule, with a saving of £20million, and zero lost time accidents in over 400,000 man-hours of physical work.
Article external references:
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Policy Paper: Nuclear Sector Deal, June 2018 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nuclear-sector-deal/nuclear-sector-deal)
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – Strategy, Effective from March 2021 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/973438/NDA_Strategy_2021_A.pdf)
Could more heat and less volume be the solution for waste? – Design Services News Bulletin, May 2021 (https://media.becbusinesscluster.co.uk/documents/DSA-News-Bulletin-May-2021.pdf)
LLW Repository Ltd ‘On The Level’, June 2019 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/809243/LLWR_-_On_The_Level_June_2019.pdf)
Sellafield Ltd awards 20-year project partnership (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sellafield-ltd-awards-20-year-project-partnership)