Last month, Erith successfully completed the removal of 91 springs and hanger rods within the Reactor structures at Bradwell Power Station. This highly complex project required an extremely niche skillset, as well as exceptional levels of safety precautions, planning, management and supervision.
Erith have undertaken work at Bradwell Power Station for nearly a decade as a supply chain partner to Magnox. During this time, we have become accustomed to the risks involved whilst in this high-risk environment. The springs and rod hangers presented new challenges to the multi discipline project team, not least of which was the tremendous amount of stored energy each spring possessed. In addition to this, Erith also had to work in radiological conditions within confined spaces to complete the work where there were significant levels of asbestos. These constraints combined to form a significant deplanting challenge.
The planning involved to carry out the bulk of the work proved essential to the success of this project. Working with our in-house design team, Swanton Consulting, and our client, Magnox, Erith’s asbestos and demolition departments developed bespoke Safe Systems of Work documents for spring restraint system installation, trial cuts, fire tests, hot cutting of the springs, drop rods and tie-bars. All risks were managed using the ERICPD (Eliminate, Reduce, Isolate, Control, PPE, Discipline) risk control hierarchy, ensuring that mitigating the risk was the primary aim before seeking measures to minimise them.
Each spring was restrained with a proprietary tensioned system, designed in-house and manufactured by a specialist engineering facility, to ensure the stored energy in the compressed spring was not instantaneously released and that the tie rod could not be ejected during the hot-cutting. Encasing the spring in a fire-retardant blanket, the springs were cut horizontally, with each coil cut to a state of fluid plasticity to release the energy stored in the spring in a controlled and safe manner. Finally, the restraints were carefully de-tensioned to prevent uncontrolled release.
The 91 springs were cut over the course of a 2-month programme after a 6-month planning period. The final spring was cut on the 2nd of October, signifying the end of this phase of work without a single health and safety event, achieving the project aim of ‘Target Zero’.
Following completion, a full review of the project was carried out by Erith and Magnox in which the following aspects were identified as key to the successful delivery of the works:
- Excellent Health and Safety culture embedded within the team
- Maintaining a single point of contact for the duration of the contract
- Excellent support from off-site engineers
- Outstanding planning and testing prior to commencing the works
- Collaboration with the client was established early, maintained and efficient
- Continuous communication between demolition staff, asbestos staff and engineers
- Efficient approval times for project documentation
- Staff resources adapted well during several changes in the scope
- Cost forecasting was submitted on time and accurate
The completion of the works was deemed a huge success for both Erith and Magnox, further demonstrating our capacity and capability to undertake high-risk and high-complexity projects to an outstanding standard. This has also enhanced our ongoing excellent working relationship with Magnox as we strive to develop future opportunities in this sector.