Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 10:56 UK

Tonnes of asbestos removed from Calder Hall reactors

Calder Hall reactor
One of Calder hall's reactors after asbestos was removed

A project to remove thousands of tonnes of asbestos from the former Calder Hall nuclear power station in Cumbria has been successfully completed.

Described as one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe, the project saw 2,300 tonnes of asbestos cladding removed at a cost of £26m.

Work began two years after Calder Hall was shut down in 2003.

It was the world's first civilian nuclear power station and was opened by the Queen in October 1956.

'Dangerous material'

The project involved teams of up to 100 men at a time stripping asbestos cladding from heat exchangers, turbine halls and associated equipment from Calder Hall's four reactors, which sit within the giant Sellafield complex.

Project manager Ian Williams said: "People always think that the most hazardous work at Sellafield involves managing radioactivity but this is not always the case.

"Asbestos is a dangerous material and we have had to employ specialist contractors to help with this work.

"At any one time we had some 100 men working in arduous and confined conditions and we're very proud of our safety record.

"At no time were any workers exposed to asbestos."

Since Calder Hall was shutdown in 2003, the asbestos was no longer kept at a constant temperature and its stability could not be guaranteed.

The completion of the work is seen as an important milestone in the decommissioning of Calder Hall and the larger Sellafield facility.

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