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Sellafield Ltd / NDA – meeting an environmental challenge

Watch our video interview with the NDA and Sellafield Ltd


Professor Melanie Brownridge, the Head of Technology for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and Neil Smart, a Chief Scientist from Sellafield Ltd, spoke on how TWI has helped them with the challenge of safe nuclear decommissioning.

Bringing innovation to R&D to create solutions for the management of hazardous waste has seen TWI provide advice and solutions for nuclear decommissioning.



The NDA was set up by the UK Government in 2005 with the aim of providing the safe clean-up of nuclear sites. This includes work undertaken at Sellafield, which is the largest nuclear facility in the UK. Neil Smart explained how Sellafield moved from reprocessing to an environmental restoration mission and how TWI’s expert advice on matters ranging from welding to materials science has helped with the containment and management of hazardous waste.

Laser Snake - cutting edge technology for nuclear decommissioning
Technology demonstration event at TWI

One of the solutions TWI assisted with was taking a laser cutting technique that had been used in the automotive industry and adapting it for nuclear decommissioning. This work initiated by the NDA, which began in 2009, has seen laser cutting used as a remote working solution that removes operators from hazardous conditions yet continues to provide accuracy for what Melanie Brownridge described as a 'safer, faster, cheaper' process.  For Sellafield, the laser cutting of historic materials has led to further opportunities for collaboration with TWI


Given the diversity of the technical challenges posed by nuclear decommissioning, innovation and R&D are essential to provide a variety of approaches. As such the NDA invests £6 million per year into R&D, which is added to a further £85 million per year from across their sites. This creates a forward-thinking climate that supports innovative solutions to difficult challenges. As Neil Smart confirmed, Sellafield respects the authoritative advice provided by TWI, whether through direct work or via their supply chain.

Avatar Melanie Brownridge Head of Technology

'Working with TWI has enabled us to take the concept through from early thinking through to development and see the potential that laser cutting has for decommissioning.'

Avatar Neil Smart Chief Scientist

'TWI is unique to work with through the provision of authoritative advice.'

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