Sellafield Ltd is making a real difference to the local community in West Cumbria – Warrington Council leader
Former Sellafield employee, now the leader of Warrington Borough Council, writes about the positive changes to the West Cumbrian site and the outreach of the company within the local community in the last twenty years.
Warrington Council Leader Russ Bowden recently visited the largest and most complex nuclear facility in Europe – the Sellafield site in West Cumbria – and was amazed at the changes that have taken place since his last visit nearly two decades ago.
Russ is a former Sellafield worker and was amazed at the progress made since he was last there, not just in cleaning up and decommissioning the numerous nuclear facilities on the six square kilometre site, but also the construction work taking place that support the legacy retrievals programme.
He said: “The first thing that struck me when I was approaching the site for the first time in 18 years was the change in the skyline. For example, one of the Windscale Pile Chimneys has been partly dismantled, the First Generation Reprocessing Plant stack has been greatly reduced and the Calder Hall cooling towers have disappeared.
“When I got on to the site, I was even more impressed by the amount of work which has taken place in the legacy ponds and silos area of the site, a testament to the innovation, skills, expertise and commitment of the workers.
“On the other side of the site, the amount of construction work to support clean up activities was also fascinating; it’s a real hive of activity.”
Russ joined BNFL in 1990 and worked in criticality safety, was later appointed special assistant to Director of Technology and Operations, Dame Sue Ion before moving to Cumbria in 1999 as the site nuclear safety officer.
He said: “I had a great career with BNFL, and my role at site was the best job I’ve ever had. I was responsible for providing authoritative nuclear safety advice to all facilities on site – including two reprocessing plants - allowing them to operate safely and efficiently.
“I loved living in West Cumbria but sadly couldn’t persuade my family to move from Warrington, so I left the company in 2001. However I’ve remained in the nuclear industry working for various organisations as a nuclear safety consultant, including my current role with RPS.
“I’ve wanted to visit Sellafield again for a long time, and given the fact that over 2,000 workers in Warrington support the Sellafield mission, including the design engineering capability alongside a large supply chain, I had the perfect reason to visit the site.
“While in Cumbria, I also visited off-site education facilities that are being supported by Sellafield Ltd, including the University Technical College (UTC) which is similar academically to the UTC in Warrington. Sellafield Ltd is making a real difference in the local community.”
Switching to his role as Warrington Council Leader, Russ said; “I have a lifelong interest in politics, and a vested interest in supporting and developing the town.
“I’m more than aware of the importance of the nuclear industry in Warrington and Cumbria, that support local jobs, develop skills and invest in the community, and I will look forward to my next visit to Sellafield to witness further nationally important clean up progress.”