protontherapy center in vandellòs-I nuclear power plant

tutor : toni girones
visiting professor : coque claret
feb. 22, 2016 / 12:00h

Vandellòs-I Nuclear Power Plant (Tarragona, Spain) is going to be completely decommissioned by 2028. This project proposes a new vision in order to give a new chance to this industrial area located on the Mediterranean coast. After 17 years of operation, the power plant shut off in 1989 due to an incident in its cooling system. The first phase of the decommission process (1998-2003) cost 100M$ and it generated more than 15.000 tonnes of conventional waste. By demolishing the existing infrastructure, we will be increasing the waste generated and also losing an icon in the landscape, a strong component of its memory, as part of the territory’s evolution.

Recycling an abandoned structure

A Protontherapy Research Center is proposed after recycling all existing structures in the power plant. Protontherapy is a medical procedure that uses a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue, most often in the treatment of cancer. Its chief advantage over other types of radiotherapy is that, as a charged particle, the dose is deposited over a narrow range and there is minimal exit dose. No such center exists in Spain because of its high cost of construction. It needs some technical characteristics similar to the existing ones in a nuclear power plant. This means that we can build the center for almost the same cost as that required to decommission the plant. For example, high density concrete walls 2m wide can serve as areas for bunkers and as a very good protection from radiation.

Controlling economic, material and energy resources

This transformation process uses around 92% of reused materials located within the field of study. They are, for example, recycled concrete, crushed ceramic remains or even smelting of metal structures and asphalt. All the processes will be made in-situ because this action allows us to reduce the budget (Euros) by 75%, as well as the energy consumed during the process (kwh) by 70%.

The new structural material is wood, to be used over the existing concrete columns. It is considered a lightweight material and does not generate CO2 emissions during the extraction process. These new interventions in wood can be removed easily in the future, deeming the existing concrete structure available for accommodating new purposes.

Replanting the post-industrial landscape

Planting of indigenous vegetation is proposed in order to build a new scenery after industrial use and to reduce the CO2 emissions produced during the transformation phases. These species are, for example: Pinus Pinea (0,29 tn/year), Populus Alba (1,26 tn/year) and Salix Caprea (1,37 tn/year).

This vegetation will be used for the decommission tasks: to accommodate industrial spaces to the new uses and also to help remove asphalt from the roads. Time, vegetation and atmospheric agents will reclaim this natural landscape built over the industrial layer. This project allows us to change the perception that we popularly have about this place. Radiation is well-known to be cancer-causing; however, we present this place now with the opportunity to turn it into a center to treat cancer instead.