Chatteris’ Metalcraft engineers secure £20 million nuclear waste box contract

Engineers in Chatteris have secured a multi-million pound extension to a prestigious contract to make strong boxes for nuclear waste storage.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 5:00 am
Stainless Metalcraft - Austen Adams (Divisional Managing Director). Picture by Terry Harris.

Stainless Metalcraft, in Honeysome Road, has been creating stainless steel storage boxes for use at the former nuclear power generating site at Sellafield for six years under a contract that has enabled the company to safeguard skilled engineering apprenticeships.

The 3M3 (three metre cubed) boxes are used to store intermediate level waste (ILW) retrieved from silos in Cumbria.

Under the just-agreed second phase of the contract, Metalcraft, which last year won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Promoting Opportunity for its apprentice programme, will produce about 1,000 boxes over six years and will see the value of the contract increase by £20 million to £70 million.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Austen Adams, managing director of Metalcraft’s parent company, Avingtrans’ Process Solutions and Rotating Equipment division, said: “Moving on to phase two of the contract is just reward for the hard work and expertise the team has put into developing the 3M3 programme.

“We are now in a position to ramp up production and begin the transition towards volume production to support Sellafield in this essential decommissioning work.”

Steve McQuillan, chief executive of Avingtrans, said: “Winning the initial contract was a landmark moment for Metalcraft, allowing us to invest significantly in infrastructure and personnel to create a world-class centre for the manufacture of ILW containers and boosting our apprenticeship programme.”

“This training programme can now be securely extended for the long term, providing skilled engineering apprentice roles in a relatively deprived area of the UK.”

“Securing the next phase of works wholly justifies that investment and vindicates the Board’s decision to refocus what was our Energy and Medical Division on new markets.

“Sellafield’s trust in Metalcraft to deliver this next phase of the project endorses the quality of our management processes in this highly sensitive technology.”

Susan Lussem, Supply Chain Director at Sellafield, said: “Retrieval of wastes from Sellafield’s legacy ponds and silos is nationally important work, and we’re dedicated to ensuring this is done as safely, quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”

“Moving the waste into modern storage will mean a huge reduction in the UK’s nuclear hazard, but before we can remove the waste, we have to be confident we have somewhere safe to put it and that we have a reliable supply of containers for decades to come.”

“The development, innovation and investment that Sellafield Ltd and Metalcraft have delivered on this project to date gives us this confidence.”