Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson has visited Sellafield nuclear site as part of an Industry and Parliament Trust visit to explore the decommissioning challenges facing the workforce based in West Cumbria.
The site employs over 10,000 people, who are engaged in nuclear waste management, decommissioning and construction. The visit involved a briefing on the key activities and a tour of some of the major legacy sites, including the Pile Nuclear Fuel Storage Pond Facility. This was an opportunity for parliamentarians to see at first hand the challenges created by the original nuclear reactors that were built at Sellafield in the 1950s and 60s, that didn’t consider the future clean-up of the nuclear material and waste as the reactors came off-line.
In addition to the discussion around the technical challenges faced at Sellafield, attendees also discussed the contributions that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) and Sellafield Ltd are making to economic regeneration in Cumbria, particularly in relation to skills and building capacity for future nuclear activities in the area.
The high-level skills required by companies like Sellafield Ltd are a key problem for the future of UK industry and therefore require substantial investment in skills to ensure the continued success of those businesses in the long-term. This is particularly the case for the nuclear industry and in West Cumbria and attendees were able to discuss the important contribution Sellafield Ltd is making in expanding its apprenticeship programme and providing continued opportunities for young people.
Bridget Phillipson MP said:
"I welcomed the opportunity to see first-hand how the workforce at Sellafield is responding to the challenges of disposing of nuclear material.
“Operations at Sellafield provide high tech jobs and apprenticeships - central to the economy of West Cumbria.
"As nuclear power plays an increasingly important part of our energy mix, it’s vital that the expertise to dispose of nuclear waste in the correct way is maintained."
Rory O’Neill, Sellafield Ltd’s Stakeholder Relations Director, added:
“I would like to thank the parliamentarians for taking time out of their busy diaries to visit our site, as part of their Industry and Parliament Trust Fellowship.
“The visit offered us the opportunity to highlight some of the complex decommissioning and clean-up challenges we are facing at Sellafield, explain the progress being made on the site and showcase the skills and commitment of our dedicated workforce.”