Sutton Coldfield firm signs seven-year nuclear waste deal

A Sutton Coldfield business has invested in new transport and storage facilities after signing a deal with the British Government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to supply materials to encapsulate nuclear waste.

Ivan Skidmore and Andrew Oborn
Ivan Skidmore and Andrew Oborn

Power Minerals Ltd (PML), an independent supplier of power generation by-products, has signed the seven-year deal to supply fly ash, which will be used in the encapsulation of nuclear waste, which is then safely stored in containers.

The contract will ensure supplies for NDA Licensed companies Magnox Ltd, Sellafield Ltd and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd.

Magnox, which manages the contract, is responsible for the safe and secure clean-up of 12 nuclear sites and the operation of one hydro-electric plant in the UK.

Sutton-based PML, which also has a team sited at Drax, the UK’s biggest power station, has invested in new storage facilities for the ash as part of the NDA project, as well as specialist tankers required for the job.

The nature of the encapsulation process means the specific ash material supplied by PML must be stored safely in sterile bags to avoid contamination, while the delivery mechanism requires tankers to collect the bags’ contents via vacuum before transit, and then blow the ash directly into the silos based at the decommissioning sites, ready for use in encapsulation.

Andrew Oborne, Magnox’s chief engineer, visited PML to inspect the dedicated storage and distribution facility for the specified fly ash, overseeing factors such as the delivery methodology and storage procedures as well as environmental considerations before final approval was given to dispatch the first loads.

PML was co-founded by Managing Director Nigel Waldron in 2003, as an ambitious start-up. It is now a market leader, employing people across three sites, working to direct millions of tonnes of ash by-product from power stations in the UK and across Europe for use in manufacturing infrastructure projects that are reshaping the UK.

The company – which is owned by EP Power Minerals GmbH – also funds research into the use of power station by products, lobbies on behalf of the sector and is working to ensure legacy stockpiles across Britain can be accessed for future use.

It is also part of the consortium behind the recent EnviroAsh project, led by Glass Technology Services (GTS), a continuation of a research and development scheme partly funded by the British Government’s Innovate UK, to develop uses for biomass ashes in the foundation industries.

PML sales and technical director Ivan Skidmore said: “PML is constantly looking for new applications for ash, and the deal with NDA – to supply ash to encapsulate nuclear waste – takes a material derived from coal-fired power and uses it to make safe the hazardous waste of nuclear generation. We’re delighted to be entrusted with this important role, which has illustrated another versatile application for ash.”

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