Test explosions at Sellafield’s Calder Hall towers a ‘success’

Controlled blasts on the four towers are a prelude to their demolition later this year. Experts detonated a charge on a small part of each of the 88m high towers’ shells.

The demolition of the towers is part of the British Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) plan to dismantle ageing facilities throughout the UK.

Jack Williamson, the cooling towers project superintendent, told the BBC that: "The test was a real-time dry run of all the safety, engineering and communications systems that will be used on demolition day.

"It was an essential and valuable part of our preparatory work and I’m pleased to report that it was a success."

Project manager Andy North added: "Safety is our primary consideration for this project.

"A variety of demolition methods were evaluated for removing the towers and controlled demolition with explosives was recommended as the safest."

After the final demolition, debris from the towers will be recovered, processed and used to fill in the voids of the cooling ponds beneath the towers, making the site available for reuse in the future.

The towers were originally part of the Calder hall facility, which was the world’s first nuclear reactor and opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1956. Calder Hall ceased operating in 2003 after almost 50 years in service.

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