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.
Twelve students successfully completed the Ready Steady Work course held in early July. The four day course sponsored by DSRL and North Highland College was offered to all senior secondary schools in Wick, Thurso and Farr.
The contract applies to twelve sites throughout the UK managed by the decommissioning company Magnox Ltd as well as the nuclear site at Dounreay in Caithness, Scotland, Radioactive Waste Management Limited's site in Harwell and the Low-Level Waste Repository in West Cumbria. A number of segments make up the contrac.
A major programme milestone has been achieved with the placement of the first low level waste disposed into the new Low Level Waste Facilities at Dounreay. DSRL were granted planning permission to construct up to six vaults in April 2009.
The removal of trapped fuel elements from the Dounreay Fast Reactor moved a step closer with the successful trial of bespoke equipment to lift off the top plate. Decommissioning the 50-year-old experimental reactor is one of the most technically challenging projects in the NDA estate.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the public body that owns Dounreay and funds its clean up, has published its annual business plan, setting out key tasks for the site licence company DSRL to deliver in the next 12 months. These include: - Decontamination of Prototype Fast Reactor pond to meet regulatory requirements - Completion of construction of new fuel characterisation facilities - Material Test Reactor raffinate immobilisation complete - Continuous improvement in health, safety and environmental performance.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate has measured that over 21% of its spend is with SMEs. This equates to over £330 million spent out of our total annual supply chain spend of £1.7 billion.
A NEW partnership agreement has been signed to develop and deliver training required at the Dounreay site during decommissioning work and help staff gain the qualifications they need to transfer to other employment sectors as the site closure progresses. Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), responsible for the clean-up and demolition of Britain's former centre of fast reactor research and development, has established a memorandum of understanding with North Highland College UHI and the University of the Highlands and Islands to help close collaboration working and academic links across further and higher education and the nuclear industry.
The regeneration of Wick will be given another boost if the planning committee on 24th March 2015 as expected approve the building of a new Archive Centre for Nuclear records in the UK. The Highland council archive centre currently based at Wick library will also relocate to the new building where it will occupy a small part of it.
Companies are being invited to attend Dounreay's annual Suppliers Day on February 26. The event will take place at The Weigh Inn in Thurso from 1.00pm.
Consultation began on 8th December 2014 on the Draft Business Plan 2015 to 2018 that sets out the key objectives and plans for delivering the NDA priorities over the next three years. The total planned expenditure for 2015/16 is £3.31 billion, of which £2.09 billion will be funded by UK government and £1.22 billion by income from commercial operations.
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