Construction of the sludge extraction and conditioning plant (LECO)

​​Status: Ongoing 
Period: 2009-2019

The project to build an Extraction and Conditioning Facility in Latina, involved the creation and implementation of a plant to extract and condition radioactive sludges – resulting from the former treatment of liquid active effluents - in cementitious matrixes. Some of the sludges, about 1.5 cubic metres, are located on the bottom of the fuel pool, while 13 cubic metres are stored in an underground stainless-steel tank under a 1 metre head of water. 

The LECO facility, built between 2009 and 2017, consists of a plant for the extraction of the sludges from the underground tank, another plant for the conditioning in cementitious matrix within cylindrical containers with a capacity of 440 litres, and a tunnel connecting these two plants. Between 2017 and 2018, the plant systems have been installed and all tests and drills were carried out. 

Among these tests there are, for example, cold tests by simulating the entire productive process without radioactive material, and hot tests with the radioactive product. 

The positive outcomes of these tests led to the request of an authorisation to activate the plant; this authorisation is expected by the first half of 2019. 

All the extraction, transfer and conditioning operations of radioactive sludges in cementitious matrix will be implemented remotely, through a specific control room. The products resulting from the activities of LECO facility (about 120 products) will be shipped to the new temporary repository. Upon completion of the operations, the extraction building and the sludge pit will be reclaimed and demolished. 

The conditioning plant will not be halted, since it is necessary to implement the conditioning of the liquid radioactive waste resulting from the second decommissioning stage of the plant.