Experts at Sellafield have opened and repacked a historic plutonium can for the first time.
The work is part of a £1 billion programme to address an identified degradation risk in a small proportion of the canisters, which date from about 50 years ago.
It’s painstaking and highly skilled work which requires operators to deftly manoeuvre the package inside a sealed glovebox.
The material was originally placed in an inner can which was wrapped in a plastic casing and then placed into an ‘overpack’ can – like a Russian doll.
But in a small proportion of the packages, the outer can has shown sign of degradation.
The operators’ task is to take the plastic-coated can out of the ‘overpack’, clean off as much plastic as possible and then reseal it in a modern and more robust outer can.
This is done in a sealed glovebox while the operator wears several layers of protective gloves.