Green light for ICEDA

The EDF Group is about to hot commission its new ICEDA conditioning plant for radioactive waste in Bugey, France. From the initial planning through to on-site implementation, the project required a great deal of forethought and high-level engineering skills.

Located on the French nuclear power plant’s premises in Bugey, near Lyon, ICEDA will soon be operational. In the future, the plant will condition and then temporarily store medium- and high-level radioactive waste generated at French nuclear power plants.

A consortium of five companies, including Bilfinger Noell, was responsible for developing and building the facility. The Bilfinger subsidiary was contracted to deliver the extremely challenging part of the plant – the hot cells area. It is here that the waste is conditioned and transferred to concrete containers suitable for temporary storage.

Bilfinger Noell was charged with planning, designing, calculating, manufacturing, assembling and commissioning the hot cells and their essential components. Special emphasis was placed on the machine technology required for processes such as dismantling, gripping and transporting as well as components for the remote handling of concrete containers. Furthermore, the scope of supply also included shielding components, e.g. stainless steel linings, radiation protection windows, air lock systems and shielding gates.

“It is exceptionally difficult and costly to replace components or fix processes once the system is up and running,” says Jan Spiegelsberger, Senior Project Manager at Bilfinger Noell. “Therefore, one of the biggest challenges was designing the hot cells to ensure their reliable operation. Because after all, operating staff cannot work inside the hot cells and must do everything remotely from outside the area. This entails analyzing every process step in advance and checking all necessary functions.”

While operations at ICEDA are on the verge of officially getting underway, it will still be a while before the first transporter containers with activated waste arrive. The hot cells and their functions have been extensively tested and approved. So now nothing stands in the way of the hot commissioning.

Further articles from issue 04.2020