Sellafield & CNSL: Pile Fuel Storage Pond Cranes

Aerospace, Nuclear & Defence

The Challenge

The Pile Fuel Storage Ponds (PFSP) at Sellafield are among the most challenging nuclear decommissioning projects in Europe. Following the completion of a key stage in the removal of larger solid wastes from the ponds, a new dewatering and descaling project could commence.

This new project required two enhanced handling systems in order to reach hard-to-access parts of the PFSP’s structure, and to avoid potential collisions with existing lifting equipment.

The Solution

Procured for Sellafield via Cumbria Nuclear Solutions Ltd (CNSL), SCX engineered two single girder cranes, each tailored to the ponds’ existing infrastructure and the task of enabling the next phase of decommissioning at Sellafield’s PFSP facility.

A 2-tonne MOTS crane with a bespoke extending, cantilevered bridge reaches into the numerous recesses along the pond’s wall. And a 4-tonne COTS+ crane equipped with collision avoidance technology shares the same rails as the existing 12-tonne pond crane.

2-tonne Decanning Area Crane

  • An overhead travelling crane with a 2-tonne SWL chain hoist, a 4.4m height of lift, a 2.8m cross travel, and a 74m long travel
  • The cantilevered bridge extends cross travel by 50% allowing access into recesses in the pond buildings where a standard crane couldn’t reach
  • To ensure safe access into tight corners, nose guide wheels help the extended bridge reach as close as possible to the pond walls


4-tonne Pond Withdrawal Crane

  • An overhead travelling crane with a 4-tonne SWL chain hoist, a 4.5m height of lift, a 4.8m cross travel, and a 74m long travel
  • A SIL2 rated anti-collision system, with laser and photoelectric positioning, is fitted to the new 4-tonne crane and the existing 12-tonne crane, as both machines share the same rails
  • Long- and cross-travel motions are controlled via variable speed drives on both cranes, operated via a radio remote pendant


Beyond COTS

  • EC&I enhancements to the COTS cranes are in strict compliance with Sellafield’s high-specification wiring and labelling regulations
  • The fully segregated anti-collision safety system is designed to SIL2, BS12100 and BS13849 standards
  • Design, engineering, assembly, end-client witnessed Factory Acceptance Testing, installation, and commissioning – all by SCX Special Projects


Let's talk more about nuclear decommissioning solutions

The decommissioning of the UK's nuclear power estate continues, with numerous complex handling challenges that need to be performed safely, reliably and accurately.

We have decades of experience in creating bespoke handling systems for nuclear sector decommissioning - with a primary focus on safety. Talk to us today.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199