Magnox Berkeley – ILW Import/Export Nuclear Cranes

The ongoing decommissioning of the Magnox estate is one of the largest nuclear remediation efforts worldwide.

At the Berkeley Magnox power station, the fuel element debris (FED) facility handles packages of intermediate level waste (ILW). The older commercial cranes were deemed no longer fit-for-purpose, so SCX Special Projects delivered a new mechanical handling solution, with semi-automated operation, to satisfy Berkeley's enhanced safety case.

The Challenge

Magnox Berkeley required a high-integrity handling solution for its Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) import/export facility. The solution needed to collect empty Ductile Cast Iron Containers (DCICs), deliver them into the facility, then return active containers to a transfer car for onward processing.

It was important that the solution satisfied a demanding safety case, including multiple and diverse layers of safety, load arrest and load recovery. It also needed to deliver semi-automated, remote operation to minimise any potential operator exposure.

The Solution

Supplied via Cavendish Nuclear Limited, SCX Special Projects designed, built, tested and installed two identical 32 tonne nuclear cranes. Each cranes has a twin-hoist lifting solution, a bespoke motorised rotating grapple, plus two MotoSuiveur MS3 load arrest devices, one per hoist.

Our mechanical and electrical engineers have significant expertise and specific familiarity with safety case-driven nuclear handling solutions. This helps to keep costs under control and offers much greater assurance on programme delivery schedules.

Advanced mechanical handling

  • The twin hoist arrangement gives a height of lift of 5 metres, with all motions via variable speed drives for smooth acceleration and deceleration
  • Operating speeds are carefully limited and controlled – 0.4 to 2.0m/min for lifting, 0.2 to 2.0m/min for travelling
  • For shielded packages, crane motions are manual – for unshielded, the moves are automated, via a remote control desk fed by CCTV cameras


Precision positioning

  • Throughout the various lifting tasks, datum points are stored by the hoist and grapple, to facilitate the precise automatic return of packages
  • For export moves that carry exposure risks, all operations are performed remotely and semi-automatically
  • Dosimetry checks and CCTV observations are made before the operators return to the crane


Getting a grip

  • The motorised, rotating grapple has a two stage lifting frame, designed to interface with a range of ILW packages
  • The system is designed to accommodate a degree of misalignment in shielded packages arriving under the hoist
  • The grapple employs manual twist locks to engage and disengage with shielded packages


MotoSuiveur load arrest

  • The MotoSuiveurs – the red devices attached to the hoist drums – protect against over-speed and load path failures, with a damping effect to reduce shock loading
  • MotoSuiveur’s recovery drives allow the load to be lowered in complete control in the event of a hoist failure
  • The MotoSuiveurs operate independently of other electrical and mechanical safety systems, simplifying installation, operation and maintenance


Systems designed for safety

  • Control, power and safety systems are physically and electrically segregated, and follow diverse designs to remove common mode failure points
  • A remote HMI station provides the primary control method, with auxiliary wired and radio pendants
  • The handling solution has multi-layered functional safety, designed to IEC 61508 standard


A focus on fit-for-purpose

  • The cranes have a design working life of 25 years, supported by calculations, documentation and comprehensive acceptance testing
  • A blend of commercially available equipment with expert mechanical and EC&I design delivers a fit-for-purpose handling solution
  • Engineering, build, test and installation all under one roof, reducing overall costs and speeding up delivery


Let's talk more about nuclear decommissioning cranes

The nuclear sector demands levels of safety and integrity that is rarely (if ever) found in commercial-off-the-shelf lifting equipment. As safety cases become increasingly demanding, especially to keep humans away from harm, new and innovative handling solutions need to be developed and deployed.

We have decades of experience in engineering nuclear decommissioning cranes - and importantly, they do it safely. 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