The first high level waste arising from the reprocessing in the UK of spent nuclear fuel from Japan is being shipped back to Japan on the specialised vessel Pacific Sandpiper.

During the first stage of transport, a single 113t flask, containing 28 stainless steel containers of solid (vitrified) HLW, left the Sellafield reprocessing facility and was transported to the port of Barrow on a specially constructed rail wagon.

It was then transferred on to the Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd vessel Pacific Sandpiper which departed on 21 January. The voyage, via the Panama Canalis will end in early March.

Ian Hudson, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Sellafield programme director said ‘The commencement of this first return of high level waste to overseas customers is a significant milestone in meeting our contractual commitments and delivering on government policy. The delivery of this programme is a prime example of high quality team working across the NDA estate.’

All transports of this HLW to Japan in this contract will be carried out by International Nuclear Services and its subsidiary PNTL. In 2007 PNTL completed a similar programme of 12 HLW transports to Japan for the French nuclear industry.