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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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£5 million cash boost for Sellafield super-lab

A super-lab capable of handling the planet’s most deadly specimens has received a major cash injection.

Around £5 million has been made available for the start of commissioning of Phase 3 of the Central Laboratory at Sellafield.

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) says Phase 3 is a suite of world-leading, heavily shielded ‘hot cells’ able to safely handle the most radioactive specimens in the world.

It means each cell can be removed and cleaned after scientists have worked on it, ready for the next task.

This prevents any build-up of background contamination, which can hamper accurate analysis.

The cash has been granted by Energy and Business Minister Michael Fallon as part of the Government’s support for nuclear research and development facilities.

A further £8m has been made available to set up a Nuclear Fuel Centre of Excellence.

The funding will provide shared equipment at NNL’s facilities in Cumbria, Preston and at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute. The new centre will play a leading role in improving fuel designs and developing advanced fuels for new reactor systems.

The NNL said it was delighted to welcome the two announcements from the government.

Paul Howarth, managing director, said: “These announcements represent a massive boost to nuclear research capability in the UK and demonstrate the commitment now being shown by Government to return the UK to the global ‘top table’ of nuclear nations.

“Our Phase 3 capability is the envy of many international visitors who have viewed the facility over recent years, and will help cement west Cumbria at the heart of nuclear R&D (research and development) for decades to come.

“The Fuel Centre of Excellence recognises the extensive capability the UK has in this field and will allow us to play a leading role in national and international work on fuel, advanced reactors and next generation fuel cycles.”

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