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Project management

Our ability to retrieve radioactive sludge, fuel and wastes from redundant buildings at Sellafield that date back to the 1950s, relies on the availability of modern, engineered buildings that can receive, treat and store the materials.

Sometimes we are able to use existing waste treatment and storage facilities on the site, but sometimes we need a new solution. The delivery of projects at Sellafield relies on collaboration and close working with the planning authorities, our supply chain, and the people who will ultimately be responsible for operating a new facility. From drawing board to commissioning, our project teams are changing the Sellafield skyline.

PROJECT PLAN AND DESIGN

DURING THIS EARLY STUDIES PHASE WE AGREE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT AND START DESIGN.

PLANNING

PLANS FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS ARE SUBMITTED TO THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES; COPELAND BOROUGH COUNCIL AND CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL.

CONSTRUCTION

CONSTRUCTION AT SELLAFIELD IS MADE MORE DIFFICULT BY OUR CONGESTED FOOTPRINT, WITH VERY LITTLE LAND AVAILABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT.

COMMISSIONING

EVERY NEW FACILITY AND PROJECT HAS TO GO THROUGH ACTIVE COMMISSIONING TO TEST AND VERIFY ITS DESIGN OBJECTIVES AND SPECIFICATIONS.

OPERATIONS

ONCE ACTIVE COMMISSIONING HAS BEEN COMPLETED THE PROJECT CAN THEN BECOME OPERATIONAL.

PROJECT ACADEMY

A new project academy isn’t just transforming the way that project professionals who are cleaning up Sellafield can access specialist education, training and qualifications; it is making Cumbria a centre of project excellence for the UK. With the first students already settled into their courses, we went to find out more.

The Project Academy for Sellafield is not only training our next generation of project professionals, but providing accredited training programmes for project managers across the area and across industries. It was a collaborative idea involving many parties, led and nurtured with tenacity by our head of project management, Ian Marr. “The clean-up of Sellafield relies on the availability of modern processing and storage facilities for nuclear materials, fuels and wastes that we are retrieving from legacy facilities, so we are always looking for ways to improve our project management capability. “Supporting an academy dedicated to the profession was a logical step for us, but we did not want it to be bespoke to the nuclear industry,” explains Marr.

“Project management is the same in our industry as any other. The fundamentals are the same worldwide. We had extensive dialogue with people at the Association of Project Managers and agreed that there is nothing unique about delivering projects in the nuclear environment.” This rationale means the academy can approach issues from a pure project management perspective. Skills learned will be transferable to other jobs, should staff change roles or move on. And, intriguingly, it opens the door to people from outside Sellafield to attend the courses. “Local residents and employees of other companies are able to study alongside Sellafield workers,” says Marr.

“A young person seeking to enter the project management world can enrol. It’s a fantastic contribution to the local area.” The first cohorts of students through the doors are proving that our staff training with aspiring project managers from other industries is benefiting everyone. Sarah Tyson, one of our project management apprentices and Lori Cockburn who works in operations support for MAP Group UK Ltd, are two of the students currently undergoing training with our Project Academy delivery partner, the University of Cumbria.

Lori said: “It’s good to have a mixture of different sectors and experience within the group. We all learn from each other and ideas are always being bounced around. It’s also a great opportunity for individuals who are interested in project management to get into employment in Cumbria.” For us, the academy means that our employees across the business can work closely with project managers, learning the language, thinking and principles of project management. At the same time, Sellafield Ltd is the driving force for project management skills on behalf of the UK, having been selected by Government to act as a ‘trailblazer’ for new apprenticeships. The new project delivery training standards are being produced by employer led groups, known as ‘Trailblazers’, making the schemes more relevant and therefore more attractive to existing and new employers.

The course allows me to develop my academic understanding of project management, which in turn will equip me with the knowledge required to have a successful career in project management and further my professional development.

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Sarah Tyson

Candidates on the apprenticeship programme learn on the job across a broad range of project-delivery functional areas, working to gain the full qualification. They are rotated through controls, risk management, construction, commissioning and pre-operations. Sarah explained that a key driver for choosing this academic course was her longer term career plan. She said: “The course allows me to develop my academic understanding of project management, which in turn will equip me with the knowledge required to have a successful career in project management and further my professional development. Project management is a transferable skill, which is used in everyday life on varying scales.”

Lori agrees, she said: I’ve worked with project managers in the past and I have always been really drawn to it but I felt I’d come to a point in my career where I couldn’t really progress without formal qualifications. “I’ve been looking for a project management course in Cumbria for a while so when the FdSc course became available on the University of Cumbria website because of the academy, I applied straight away.”

Sarah and Lori are both completing their courses while working, and both are benefiting from combining formal education with practical experience. Lori said: “I’ve been able to apply a lot of the content I’ve learned to my current role and already learned some new skills. I feel more confident in my role as I have the knowledge and understanding to underpin my experience.” Sarah added: “My course complements my day-to-day work as it is delivered on a day release basis. As an apprentice we need to learn and gain actual industry experience, this course enables me to develop my academic studies by working towards the foundation degree but also allows me to apply it to experience in a real working environment, the work-based training has also helped me to gain confidence and learn how Sellafield Ltd works as a business.”

It requires a highly complex work programme to construct new buildings and develop new technology to carefully retrieve this waste, plus the design and build of a fleet of new treatment and storage plants to keep it in. This process has turned Sellafield into the UK’s largest building site. Our project delivery director, Steve Livingstone, is excited by the opportunities that project management presents for our area and the UK. He said: “There is no reason why the next generation of Sellafield employees, contractors, apprentices, students and school kids of today, cannot take their skills and capabilities out onto the global stage.

“Project management is the same in the nuclear industry as any other. Whether you work on the construction of an airport, a rail network or the Olympic Games, the fundamentals are universally the same. The knowledge, skills and behaviours we apply when delivering projects at Sellafield are transferable to any sector. The UK is becoming the hub for project professionals, there have never been so many opportunities – so go out and grasp them.”

It’s good to have a mixture of different sectors and experience within the group. We all learn from each other and ideas are always being bounced around. It’s also a great opportunity for individuals who are interested in project management to get into employment in Cumbria.

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Lori Cockburn