In late 2022, NSG and assay technology specialists ANTECH completed the assay of the final drum on the PCM Drum Recharacterisation project at the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) site in Cumbria.
Drums being assayed at the Low Level Waste Repository
The site had an inventory of 1,810 ‘PCM drums’ that were generated throughout the life of the PCM Decommissioning project, which was completed in 2021 by NSG and LLWR. Due to the limitations of LLWR’s previous assay machine, an opportunity arose for the drums to be more accurately characterised and potentially diverted to lower-level waste routes with better assay technology, providing both cost and environmental benefits.
The expectation at the start of the project was that up to 60% of the drums could be reclassified as low level waste (LLW) when deploying ANTECH’s more accurate Universal Drum Assay and Segregation System (UDASS) detector. Upon completion of the project, only 0.5% of the drums (four in total) measured were classified as PCM, with 4.5% falling into the LLW category. Most of the drums fell into lower classifications by their radiometric inventory, either low active low level waste (LALLW) or very low level waste (VLLW). This represents a greater than 99% reclassification rate.
Based on this reclassification, the project realised savings in excess of £9m for the lifetime cost of managing this waste for the NDA. In recognition of these cost savings, the PCM Drum Recharacterisation project team were awarded the NDA Group ‘Value for Money’ award.