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Sellafield and Drigg Low Level Waste Repository

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Sellafield and Drigg LLWR

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The LLWR construction site
1 of 1 | The LLWR construction site

The Drigg Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) is the UK's storage area where low level nuclear waste is stored safely. We combined our contracting, concrete and aggregates departments to provide the complete service to the customer.

Key facts

Sector: Power and nuclear
Client: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Washington Group International
Contractor: Birse Nuclear
  • Successful supply chain partnering
  • Material and service solution provider
  • Focus on community engagement


In early 2008 Cumbria County Council granted permission for a new vault (9) to be built. The new vault is expected to accommodate about 700 ISO steel containers per year, with two-thirds of waste coming from Sellafield and the remainder from MoD sites; nuclear power stations; hospitals; universities; medical companies, and the oil industry.

Storage of this waste requires the construction of engineered concrete vaults. Suitable low level waste is compacted and placed in containers before being transferred to the low level waste repository that includes a grouting facility for these containers. The final waste packages are then placed in the vaults, awaiting capping with an engineered cover. The vault needs an impermeable lining.

Vault 9 at Drigg will be able to hold 5,500 ISO steel containers, meaning that it will have an operational life of about eight years.


Drigg is situated in a particularly rural area, and the first challenge was to supply a large quantity of aggregates for the construction of Vault 9. For this task, our Millom and Eskett quarries were used, as all material could be delivered by rail, which is a strength of ours, taking thousands of lorry movements a year off the roads.

To further reduce lorry movements, and to provide a consistent reliable source of ready-mixed concrete an on-site concrete batching plant was constructed to supply ready-mixed concrete into the workings. The Drigg site is using a high volume of
ready-mixed concrete, and having a plant on-site enables the delivery peaks to be catered for much more effectively than
using an off-site plant some miles away. Our Composite Pavements were also called in to enrich site won materials with Bentonite, for use as a lining and backfill to the repository area and for use in grouting the containers prior to storage. Bentonite imparts a clay like quality making surfaces impermeable, and swelling to form a waterproof barrier, which prevents groundwater from circulating through the waste and escaping.
The Bentonite buffer is one of the primary barriers in the repository, and several tonnes of material are required
per container stored.

One of the keys to our success at Drigg has been its policy of community engagement, with active programmes in place to provide information to the public about our operations, and support local community activities, particularly related to the environment. We regard this as best practice for all the areas in which we work.

Customer testimonials

Aggregate Industries is proving itself to be a world class company on site at Drigg
Dick Razz
Managing Directore, LLW Repository

Sellafield and Drigg LLWR

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