ROV working in dive tank



JFN awarded renewal of Sellafield ROV contract by The Decommissioning Alliance.

  • James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) wins renewal of their contract with The Decommissioning Alliance (TDA) for the provision and management of Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) capability for Legacy Ponds at the Sellafield nuclear site.
  • Adaptable and robust, JFN’s ROVs have become integral to two of the most complex decommissioning projects in the world – waste removal from The First Generation Magnox Storage and Pile Fuel Storage Ponds (the Legacy Ponds).
  • Following JFN’s previous success, ROV utilisation has recently been expanded with the introduction of larger, more powerful machines to carry out ‘work’ type activities within the ponds.

JFN has successfully secured a renewal of its contract with TDA for the provision and management of ROV capability for the Legacy Ponds at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, UK.

The Legacy Ponds represent some of the most complex and difficult nuclear decommissioning challenges in the world. Some areas within the Legacy Ponds date back to the 1940s and have played a vital role in keeping the UK's nuclear power stations operating and generating low carbon electricity for over half a century.

Following JFN’s previous successes with ROVs at Sellafield, these adaptable and robust vehicles, combined with bespoke tooling and attachments designed and manufactured by JFN, undertake essential work to support the ongoing operation of the plant.

The use of ROV’s coupled with bespoke tooling offers many cost-saving benefits to more traditional methods as the adoption of commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment means the cost of deployment is considerably cheaper than other means. In many instances tasks have not had any available benchmark methodology and using ROV’s has removed the cost of developing a technique altogether.

The modularisation and versatility of the ROV and the bespoke equipment also reduces the cycle time from project commencement to completion providing the added benefit of programme acceleration.

Due to the benefits of using ROVs they have become integral to the current decommissioning strategy - playing a vital role in the removal of fuel, miscellaneous beta gamma waste and sludge from the Legacy Ponds’ facilities while maximising the cost-benefit for the taxpayer.

Under the contract, JFN’s ROV team will be delivering a further 12 months of continued operations and maintenance within the Legacy Ponds, focusing on personnel, equipment and ancillary requirements such as training, spares and maintenance.

Wayne Jones, JFN Project Manager, said:

“Our core purpose has always been to provide Sellafield a pioneering, safe and trusted solution to the complex problems the site presents. The renewal of this contract will enable JFN to work with TDA and Sellafield to deliver a more sustainable future by accelerating the clean-up of our nuclear legacy. Since JFN first proved the feasibility of ROVs within the Legacy Ponds we’ve had great successes, and continue to be a trusted, agile solutions provider focusing on problem solving at the point of execution. I’m thrilled to be able to continue supporting TDA and Sellafield in the accelerated clean up and removal of nuclear hazards from the Legacy Ponds that will ultimately benefit all stakeholders.”

Recently, the utilisation of the ROVs has been expanded with the introduction of larger, more powerful machines to carry out ‘work’ type activities within the ponds. Sellafield through TDA has established additional ROV launch/recovery sites as well as operational stations, maintenance areas, and workshops. These are all in support of an increased fleet of ROVs that now include small work-class type ROVs as well as the inspection class vehicles, some of which had been adapted for minor work class type operations. This has all been made possible by the successes made by JFN in previous years such as consolidation of pond inventory and general pond floor clearance operations which has provided the floor space to allow these tasks to be considered, and this equipment introduced.

Steve Beverley, TDA Operations Delivery Manager, said:

“With this 12-month extension, TDA and JFN are building on the previous four years of collaborative working to support Sellafield with high hazard risk reduction within Legacy Ponds. Through continuously striving to improve and innovate, ROVs are now established as a core capability that is fundamental to all of the plant’s operations within those ponds to meet the strategic and tactical plans.”