Robots Will Take Dounreay's Dome Apart
20th November 2011
Like something out of the Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds, the Kuka robot has a very important job to do.
The standard industrial robot, built exactly the same as a typical car assembly line robot, will play an integral part in the demolition process of Dounreay's iconic fast reactor.
Removal of the highly hazardous and radioactive breeder slugs is the next crucial step in decommissioning the fifty year old facility.
The robot does the job traditionally undertaken by operators using manipulators whilst working through heavily shielded lead glass windows. The working area is very high in radiation - too high for people to access, so the robot does the job safely and much quicker, lowering the radiological hazards, plus providing consistency and reliability in a highly controlled environment.
The giant orange robot, built by Kuka Robotics UK Ltd, manoeuvres on a static turntable and is pre-programmed to remove the lid of the 500 litre waste drums, swab around the surface checking for traces of radioactive contamination and clean the top of the Magnox flask which stores the drums.
It operates like a giant portable pincer arm and is controlled remotely to maintain a safe, clean and secure process within the breeder packaging plant.
Inactive commissioning will be complete by the end of the financial year ready for the breeder removal operation to begin in summer 2012.
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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