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
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.
A major upgrade and expansion of Dounreay's Thurso town centre office has been completed. David Flear, Chair of Dounreay Stakeholder Group, officially reopened the building which sits at the entrance to the high street and has been the site's public information office for almost a decade.
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.
The first block of concrete has been removed from the structure of one of Dounreay's cooling ponds - representing a major first step in demolishing the redundant giant chamber. The pond is one of two concrete pits, six metres deep, which was used to store spent fuel from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR).
More than 30,000 bricks have been removed from three pits within a redundant facility as part of a project to decommission a former effluent treatment plant. A scaffold platform has been constructed to allow operators, wearing full airline suits, access to remove the bricks using small electrically operated hand tools.
Amec Foster Wheeluker 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.
His Excellency, Mr Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom, Mr Yosuki Ishigami from the Economic Section of the Japanese Embassy and Mr Daisuke Matsunaga, Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh visited Dounreay during a two-day visit to the north of Scotland as a guest of Dr Paul Monaghan MP. At Dounreay the group toured the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR), including the reactor hall.
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.
Dounreay has said "you're hired" to ten local newcomers who have started their careers at Dounreay this week. This makes it the 61st consecutive year that apprentices have joined the site.
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.
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