LETTERS: Jason and the Argonaut

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The Independent Online
IT IS wrong to say that "no reactor has ever been dismantled" ("Jason casts a cloud over naval college sale", 22 October). British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) has recently successfully dismantled - within its projected time and budget - a similar type of research reactor, owned and operated by Manchester University.

The 500-tonne Argonaut reactor operated for many years, at a much higher power using the same type of enriched fuel. The reactor was built near Warrington, in Cheshire, close to homes and industrial premises and with a major road adjacent to the site.

I agree that the work will require a highly-trained workforce with the full resources to be able to defuel the reactor and to handle the intermediate- level waste that would be generated.

However, I firmly believe that the on-site dismantling within the Grade I listed building could be undertaken in a timescale shorter than the two years indicated, with no risk to the workforce or general public. I base that statement on the experience gained by BNFL in dismantling the Manchester University reactor.

Keith Ryding

Decommissioning project manager, BNFL Sellafield, Cumbria