Magnox Nuclear Handling Solutions



Shaping the future of decommissioning

Since 1999, SCX Special Projects has played a part in the decommissioning of Magnox nuclear power stations across the UK. Right now, we continue to support the decommissioning effort with innovative handling solutions such as the FED import/export system at Berkeley and the MILWEP cranes at Berkeley and Hinkley A.

And we look forward to playing our part in Magnox’s future too, as it sets out on a refreshed strategy to fully decommission the fleet. Our engineers bring decades of experience, innovation and expertise to help solve your mechanical handling challenges, and to shape the future of decommissioning.

"Magnox’s fleet of 26 reactors continues to head through decommissioning.

"The processing environments demand respect and careful attention, while the range of waste formats present a unique handling challenge. We are already part of the Magnox journey, and we remain as committed and enthusiastic as ever. Read on to see how our journey began, at Berkeley."

Danny Pickard, Projects Director
SCX Special Projects

Berkeley Active Waste Vault 7t Crane


Our first handling solution at Magnox has itself been decommissioned long ago, having served in Berkeley’s active waste storage facility. SCX engineered, built and installed a 7-tonne SWL crane to handle active waste skips, before transferring them for further processing.


  • SCX delivered a 7-tonne SWL crane comprising a 4-rope, 2-drum hoist giving 11 metres of lift
  • ƒ The bespoke electromechanical grab interfaces with half- and standard-height skips, using actuators to secure the load
  • MotoSuiveur device can be integrated into a wide range of COTS hoists of different sizes and capabilities, even when retrofitted


  • Both the crane and grab are controlled remotely via a CCTV-fed desk to help reduce operator exposure
  • The PLC-based system provides accurate control, while load sensing devices and operational interlocks ensure safety
  • Two variable speed drives provide long travel motion, with multiple control limits to prevent over-travel

Trawsfynydd SSB (Sludge Solidification Building) Crane


The SSB facility at Trawsfynydd encapsulates active waste into 3m3 Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) drums ready for long term storage. The challenge was to develop a remotely-operated system that would reliably handle the drum lids, liners and secondary containment vessels (SCVs).

  • SCX engineered a 10-tonne SWL overhead crane providing 9 metres of true vertical lift for the bespoke grab
  • The grab attaches to Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) drums via electrical twistlock devices, which prevent lifting if not fully engaged or released
  • The crane carries a local control panel for all system operations, while the grab has backup actuators

  • The control system is tailored specifically to Trawsfynydd’s needs and included consultation with Magnox personnel
  • Encoders, load cells, limit switches and CCTV provide both operational information and additional layers of safety
  • Variable speed drives provide smooth acceleration and deceleration, while also helping to minimise load sway

Hunterston SILWE Import/Export System


The Hunterston SILWE overhead travelling crane and bespoke latching grapple in its drumhandling tests at SCX’s facility in Sheffield.

A tried and tested design

  • An evolution of the earlier SAWBR and Wet ILW hoists, giving 12 metres of true vertical lift and a 12-tonne SWL
  • The bespoke latching grapple design interfaces with a range of ILW packages
  • The chassis of the grapple is carefully planned to provide access to the mechanism, cabinets and cabling for easy maintenance

Safety always first

  • The crane has full remote recovery in the event of a hoist or power failure, ensuring that no personnel need to be exposed to an ILW package
  • Interlocks are used to restrict hoist and grapple operations outside of predefined areas
  • Load cells, encoders and limit switches relay operational data and ensure high levels of safety

Hunterston Wet ILW Import/Export System


Hunterston required a remote mechanical handling system to support the retrieval, filling and sealing of mobile intermediate level waste, in readiness for site transfer and storage. SCX Special Projects created a series of integrated ILW handling systems, connected by an advanced EC&I scheme.

  • Fine electrical control, precise mechanical design and laser positioning ensure millimetre accuracy
  • The bespoke grapple design interfaces with Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) boxes or drums, complete with a sophisticated locking detection system
  • The system uses semi-automated positioning presets, all controlled remotely via a CCTV-fed desk

  • SCX engineered a series of bespoke handling systems to process ILW materials through multiple, connected stages
  • The systems are sited along a 14-metre shielded canyon where ILW packages are filled and sealed, ready for site transfer
  • Our ‘full system thinking’ approach ensures smooth and safe transitions and prevents accidental movements

Hunterston SAWBR ILW Handling System


Alongside Hunterston’s Wet ILW system is a facility known as SAWBR (Solid Active Waste Bunker Retrieval project). A mechanical handling solution was designed to engage with SAWBR’s ILW boxes and hold them for swabbing, before handling them onto a transporter ready for site transfer.

  • The bespoke grapple engages with either ILW boxes or drums via four twistlock sockets
  • Limit switches, load cells, proximity switches and photocells provide advanced EC&I monitoring and pinpoint control
  • Diverse recovery mechanisms allow the load to be secured in the event of power loss or hoist failure

  • The main ILW package hoist has a 10-tonne SWL and a 4-rope configuration to give 7 metres of true vertical lift
  • The required design life was just 5 years, allowing SCX to create a more costeffective, fit-for-purpose solution
  • The crane is controlled remotely from a CCTV-fed desk, including a range of semiautomated preset positioning commands

Harwell 2t Vault Store Crane Upgrade


The existing 5-tonne SWL crane in Harwell’s Vault Store was approaching the end of its design life, however the underlying infrastructure was still extremely solid. The site was faced with the choice between investing in a brand new handling system or upgrading the existing crane.

  • SCX assessed and extensively upgraded the existing overhead crane, including a new bespoke grapple, to create a highintegrity handling system
  • The crane and grapple has a revised SWL of 2 tonnes, with a 7.5 metre height of lift
  • The upgrade has given Harwell a handling system with a design life 30 years, at a fraction of the cost of a new system

  • The overhaul of the crane and its control system added new safety features and removed potential points of failure
  • Variable drive systems were added, safety interlocks enhanced and the existing control panel was redeployed
  • A new retrieval system was added, capable of returning the crane to the maintenance area from any long- or cross-travel position

Winfrith Dragon 25t + 2t Polar Crane Upgrade


The polar crane crab over the Winfrith Dragon reactor was removed and replaced by SCX, along with a new auxiliary hoist, EC&I system and polar travel drives.

  • Secondary drive units and dual calliper emergency brakes protect both hoist units
  • Overspeed and overload detection, plus a collision protection system, keep the crane within predefined limits
  • An advanced HMI touch screen provides the control interface while relaying valuable data to the operators

  • SCX engineered and installed a replacement 25-tonne SWL crab unit, adding a 5-tonne auxiliary hoist and upgraded EC&I
  • Installation was a challenge, with limited space over the reactor
  • SCX’s design was modular so that it could be lifted in smaller pieces and assembled in situ

Berkeley FED Import/Export System


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.

  • Two identical 32-tonne SWL cranes with twin hoists, a bespoke motorised grapple and two MotoSuiveur devices each
  • Designed to support Berkeley’s transition from Ductile Cast Iron Containers (DCICs) to steel-lined concrete ILW packages
  • Segregated and diverse power and control, with multi-layered functional safety designed to IEC 61508 standard

  • Throughout the various lifting tasks, datum points are stored by the hoist and grapple to facilitate automated motions
  • The grapple interfaces with both types of package and corrects any misalignment in packages arriving under the hoist
  • Remote control, dosimetry checks and CCTV observation help to protect personnel

Berkeley Active Waste Vault 2.5t Crane


Berkeley’s Active Waste Vaults hold a range of debris, including sludge cans, that are being retrieved for processing and storage. A handling solution was needed to perform various tasks, including safely extracting filled cans from the vaults, and passing emptied cans to the next stage of processing.

  • The hoist is chain driven with a 2.5-tonne SWL and installed within a sealed mounting tower that sits over the vault’s gamma gate
  • The hydraulic grab is a modified commercial model, equipped with CCTV and LED lights, above which is a load cell and a laser measurement device
  • Load recovery is made possible via a secondary 2.5-tonne SWL chain hoist

  • Full cans are emptied of sludge and the cans are retrieved and deposited for processing
  • Crane control and system status are via a touch screen HMI, giving hoist and grab positions, load cell reading, grab position and hydraulic pressure

Berkeley & Hinkley MILWEP Cranes


The MILWEP facilities at Berkeley and Hinkley Point A required overhead cranes for the loading and unloading of two different types of package. Due to the presence of active materials in the operating area, clear and effective remote control was essential.

  • SCX engineered two identical cranes for the two sites, each with a 5-tonne SWL from a derated 6.3-tonne hoist for safety
  • Enhancements to the predominantly COTS hardware include a rotating hook block, maintenance platforms and safety systems
  • A 32-way cable reeler provides power to various tools attached to the hook

  • The bespoke control desk receives images and data from the cameras and sensors positioned at various points on the crane
  • The HMI screens also identify which tooling is attached to the hook, detected by plug pin patterns on the power connections
  • Segregated power and control circuits add safety, while pendant is provided for local control and maintenance

Let's talk more about nuclear handling solutions.

The nuclear sector demands high levels of safety and integrity that cannot be fulfilled by commercial-off-the-shelf lifting equipment on its own. Our innovative engineering approach takes proven components from reputable manufacturers and combines them with innovative protection systems to deliver a verified nuclear crane solution.

We have decades of experience in engineering nuclear cranes. 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