NDA - On Fuel Removal From Dounreay
16th June 2011
NDA to seek views on removal of fuel from Dounreay.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is to publish a report about the proposed removal of its nuclear fuel from Dounreay and wants to hear the views of the public.
NDA inherited approximately 100 tonnes of specialist reactor fuel from the UK Atomic Energy Authority after nuclear research came to an end and work started to close down the site.
Options for the fuels range from indefinite storage at Dounreay to re-use in nuclear power stations elsewhere. The NDA's preferred option will be set out in a report later this month.
A final decision on the largest single batch of fuel - 44 tonnes of uranium metal used to breed plutonium at Dounreay in the 1960s and 70s - is expected in September.
Members of the site stakeholder group heard last night the NDA's preferred option is to remove this fuel from Dounreay and reprocess into a form more suitable for either long term storage or re-use in reactors, depending on the outcome of Government policy reviews.
Alex Anderson, head of fuels at site licence company DSRL, said decommissioning of the Dounreay Fast Reactor had progressed to the stage where decisions needed to be made about what to do with the breeder.
"The fuel is being stored securely while we get on with dismantling the rest of the facilities round about them," he said.
"Decisions taken now about the future of the fuel will help us plan for what facilities, if any, we need to retain here in the longer term. This will let us refine the timescale and cost for closure of the entire site.
"If the NDA decides the breeder should be returned to national fuel stocks, we anticipate the first batch being ready to leave the site in January next year for reprocessing at Sellafield.
"Its transfer would be carried out by DRS, the NDA's own transport company and among the most experienced in the world at moving this type of material by train. It routinely takes fuel like this to and from power stations across the UK.
"Breeder makes up just under half the total inventory of fuel inherited by the NDA at Dounreay. Work is continuing with the NDA's agreement on options for the remainder of the fuels."
If the NDA proceeds with the proposal, the far north railway line is its preferred route out of Caithness. DRS, the NDA's rail transport subsidiary, is exploring options for the development of a rail head.
Coppyright NDA and Dounreay site Restoration Ltd
Work is underway to retrieve the last remaining radioactive fuel elements that have been stuck for decades inside the iconic Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR). The experimental dome-shaped nuclear reactor once led the world in fast breeder technology and after it closed in 1977 most of the core fuel was removed.
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.
Companies are being invited to LINC together and support Scotland's largest decommissioning project thanks to an innovative new scheme designed to increase the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) delivering clean-up work at Dounreay. Up to five companies will be invited to help understand and develop the best proposal for size-reducing all of the machinery and components that will need to be removed from Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) - the largest to be built at the Caithness site.
Graduates from as far afield as Portugal and London arrived in Caithness last week to kick start their career at Dounreay. Ten new recruits have started on the two-year graduate scheme with educational backgrounds as diverse as engineering, law and digital forensics and ethical hacking.
It is 60 years this weekend since the first criticality was achieved in Scotland using a test rig at Dounreay. Now the decommissioning team responsible for the site is marking that milestone by taking a major step towards demolishing the oldest reactor that remains at the former fast reactor research centre.
This film, produced by AEA Technology in 1994, looks back on the history of the fast reactor development programme at Dounreay..
Progress across Dounreay's decommissioning programme is being showcased in a new film and brochure highlighting the team's successes during 2016-17. Some of the highest hazards that remained in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate, including liquid metal coolant from the Dounreay Fast Reactor, were reduced and destroyed during the year bringing to a successful conclusion projects that spanned many years.
The biggest networking event in Europe for nuclear decommissioning will be held in Manchester. 2 November 2017.
A planning application will be submitted to Highland Council later this year to cover the next phase of planning at the Dounreay site. Planning permission from 2018 to the shutdown of the site, also known as the interim end state, is the third phase of the planning required for the Dounreay decommissioning programme.
The clean-up of the nuclear estate is a key priority for both the Scottish and United Kingdom governments. Dounreay's decommissioning is well established with the site due to reach an interim end state by the early 2030s.
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