Clean-up Reveals 6000 Years Of Human History
24th March 2011
Getting rid of Britain's 20th century experiment with fast breeder nuclear reactors is illuminating the history of human settlement on Scotland's north coast stretching back 6000 years.
Archaeologists hired as part of the closure of the nuclear site at Dounreay have pieced together the legacy left by previous generations who occupied the site as long ago as 4000BC.
Headland Archaeology Ltd spent September and October excavating open ground adjacent to the redundant nuclear site that is earmarked for the disposal of low level radioactive waste from its decommissioning.
Their digging found the remains of a cairn - a stone-covered cist used to inter bodies, often with their jewellery and weapons - thought to date from the Bronze Age (circa 2300 - 700BC).
The cairn had been disturbed and emptied at some point in the past. The only remaining artefact discovered was a flint flake.
A nearby Neolithic cairn discovered in 1928 with the bodies of five people inside is already fenced off and protected by law as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It dates from 4000BC.
Headland has interpreted the area's archaeology in posters. These are now on display in Thurso at the Dounreay.com public information centre and Caithness Horizons exhibition.
Dounreay heritage officer James Gunn said: "The work carried out by Headland adds to the knowledge of the site and boosts the legacy of information we can leave behind when the nuclear facilities are gone."
The site of the archaeological excavation is earmarked for development as a shallow repository for up to 175,000 metres3 of solid low-level radioactive waste from the clean-out and demolition of the reactor experiment.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd announced in January that Graham Construction had been selected as its preferred bidder for the design and construction of the facility, with a formal award of contract due later this month.
Subject to regulatory and other consents, construction of the first two vaults is scheduled to begin in the autumn and take two years to complete.
The facility will enable DSRL to clear all the low-level radioactive waste from the site and dispose of it in a way that protects future generations.
Eleven young people who have completed their Dounreay apprentice training are "very much a part of the future of the far north." Guest speaker Jamie Stone MP told the audience at the apprentice indenture ceremony that took place last Friday that, as Dounreay continues to decommission, the newly indentured apprentices would be an important part of the area's ability to offer a skilled and innovative workforce. Dounreay Managing Director and former nuclear industry apprentice Phil Craig added: “I am very proud that we are celebrating yet another group of talented apprentices.
The biggest networking event in Europe for nuclear decommissioning will be held in Manchester. 2 November 2017.
A unique new archive, funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has opened its doors to the public for the first time, bringing together historical nuclear records from all over the UK. Speaking today at the Nucleus (Nuclear and Caithness Archive) in Wick, NDA chairman Stephen Henwood, said:Today we see a new chapter in the important role Caithness has played in the UK's nuclear history.
Amec Foster Wheeler has been awarded a contract to design and build a new effluent treatment plant at Dounreay. The agreement signals a landmark move for the Caithness site as the first to incorporate socio-economic commitments following the introduction of a new procurement policy earlier this year.
An off the shelf CCTV camera is providing crystal clear images from the depths of Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR). Fifty years on from the construction of PFR, the reactor decommissioning team is viewing footage that will enable it to pull apart the innards of the second and last fast reactor to be built in the UK.
The last of the higher activity liquid waste produced during Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) fuel reprocessing has been made safe for future generations. It is an important milestone in the immobilisation of the historic liquid waste, known as raffinate, created from reprocessing undertaken during the operation of Dounreay's three reactors.
The destruction of one of the highest hazards remaining in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate has been completed at Dounreay. Around 68 tonnes of highly radioactive liquid metal coolant was removed from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) and safely destroyed over a ten year period.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), in association with the Site Licence Companies (SLCs), invite you to ‘connect and innovate' at their fifth annual event. Entry is free of charge to delegates and exhibitors.
The PFR stone table with the inscription 'Out of Caithness to the World' will become the centre piece of the NDA Archive when it opens its doors in 2017. Construction of the new facility has begun at Wick and was officially opened by David Flear, Dounreay Stakeholder Group chairman, when he cut the first turf at an opening ceremony in August.
A ceremonial turf cutting ceremony marked the official start of building work on the new archive that will store nuclear records from across the UK. David Flear, chairman of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, dug into the ground at the Wick site where the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's Nuclear Archive will start to take shape over the next 12 months.
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