SELLAFIELD and the National Nuclear Laboratory have picked up a global award for a scientific study.

They received the Process Safety prize at the Institute of Chemical Engineers Awards.

The study looked at how intermediate level waste at the plant's Magnox Swarf storage Silo behaves.

The findings allowed Sellafield to slice millions of pounds off the estimated bill for cleaning up the building and speeding up the project by around four years.

The research centred on the long-term behaviour of the waste and the corrosion of magnesium and uranium.

It confirmed that Sellafield Ltd could move from a 22-step mechanical treatment and encapsulation process, which would have required the construction of a multi-million pound plant, to a simpler and ultimately safer process where waste is placed in a shielded box for storage for decades before final disposal in an underground repository.

A team from Sellafield and NNL were handed the IChemE award by BBC presenter Adrian Chiles at an awards ceremony in Manchester.

Paul Foster, Sellafield chief executive, said: “The adoption of a new approach to waste marked a pivotal moment in the journey of Sellafield.

“I am extremely proud of the role Sellafield has played in the project, which has delivered a breakthrough in decommissioning."