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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 17

20th December 2006

NONE IN A MILLION - DOUNREAY REACHES SAFETY MILESTONE
Dounreay has clocked up a million man-hours without a lost time accident.

With more construction and demolition work taking place than ever before, this is an excellent achievement. Simon Middlemas, acting site director, said it sent out a strong message about the standards expected of the 2000-strong workforce as they dismantle more of the site.

The team decommissioning the Dounreay Fast Reactor, which contains one of the largest radiological and chemical hazards left over from the site's operational days, has also notched up a million man-hours, which is equivalent to one man working a seven-hour day, five days a week for five hundred years.

For more information see: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_project_updates.htm#Dec0604
http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_project_updates.htm#Dec0605

OLD REACTOR GOES WITH THE FLOW
A 3.8 million plant has discharged its first run of liquid effluent as part of the next phase of taking apart Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor. The start-up of the plant marks the end of a highly successful active commissioning process, which has maintained an exemplary safety record on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority by UKAEA and its contractors.

The new plant will clean up effluent that comes from the dismantling of the old effluent treatment plant, decontamination of redundant components from PFR and the liquid effluent from the buffer store pond. It is the latest stage of a major decommissioning project that will see Britain's second and last fast reactor completely dismantled by approximately 2032. For more information see: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_project_updates.htm#Dec0602

CLEAN-UP TEAM REACHES THE CORE
Yet another pioneering invention has successfully allowed the crucial next phase of decommissioning Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor to begin. The innovative purpose-built device, which resembles an extremely long flexible drill, enables pockets of liquid metal to be drained from deep inside the redundant reactor.

For further information see: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/news/2006/07_12_06.html

PLANT RESTART TO REMOVE REMAINDER OF REACTOR LIQUID METAL
Dounreay's sodium disposal plant has started its final run to destroy the last bulk of the liquid metal used to cool the Prototype Fast Reactor. Some 1500 tonnes of sodium was used inside the reactor, and the plant has already broken the world record for liquid metal destruction.

Safe disposal of this metal is carried out in dedicated plant in the facility's former turbine hall at a cost of 17 million. The plant reacts small quantities of sodium with large quantities of aqueous sodium hydroxide which, following neutralisation with hydrochloric acid, produces salt water. The salt water passes through an ion exchange column to clean up radioactivity before it is discharged to sea in accordance with the site's waste disposal authorisation.

BUILDING TEAM BREEDS CLEAN-UP SUCCESS
From the outside, it looks like a metal-clad warehouse. But once the inside is complete, the new building attached to the bottom of the famous dome will play a key role in one of the most important decommissioning tasks of the whole programme. The building, which will receive the breeder blanket extracted from the Dounreay Fast Reactor, has achieved a milestone in its construction programme with the exterior cladding of the building now complete. Setting to work is scheduled to start during the summer with the interior construction work rapidly progressing.

SGN have commenced trials to test the design of the process cell prior to shipping and subsequent installation in the breeder plant early next year. The process cell and associated equipment will be responsible for dismantling the breeder elements by removing the cladding and exposing the uranium slugs in preparation for packaging into 500 litre drums ready for storage. The breeder removal is due to start in 2009 and will take approximately three years to complete, subject to consents.

ANOTHER LIQUID METAL CLEAN-UP PLANT STARTS UP
Removal of the radiologically-contaminated sodium-potassium (NaK) liquid metal coolant from the Dounreay Fast Reactor is a crucial part of the site decommissioning programme, and a purpose-built plant within the sphere is now in operation. The modern plant is designed to safely destroy the coolant using a proven method of dissolution to transform the highly reactive metal into sodium/potassium nitrate and water that can be cleaned up.

ELAINE OWES HER LIFE TO 36 DONORS
Dounreay safety manager Elaine Cameron owes her life to 36 people she has never met.

Each of the donors who gave a pint of their blood saved Elaine's life when she needed emergency surgery. Doctors rushed her by helicopter from Caithness General Hospital in Wick to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where she received 36 pints of blood during an emergency operation. Now, with the blood transfusion service desperately short of donors, she is fronting a campaign at Dounreay to encourage her two thousand workmates to give a pint of their blood to help others in need. See: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/news/2006/19_12_06.html

NEW INFORMATION SIGNS AGREED FOR BEACH
UKAEA and Sandside Estate have agreed to erect new public information signs at the beach where 76 radioactive particles have been detected to date. Working together the wording of the signs has been agreed and will be erected in the near future.

It follows publication of the third report by the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group, which updated previous advice on the risk to the public from particles. That led to the removal by the estate earlier this month of notices it had erected at the beach and an invitation to UKAEA to bring forward proposals for updated signs. See: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/news/2006/14_12_06.html

UKAEA HOSTS PLUTONIUM WORKSHOP
UKAEA Dounreay, at the request of the NDA, hosted a "good practice" workshop on plutonium decommissioning. The two-day workshop took place in Manchester and was attended by approximately 60 representatives from organisations with an interest in decontamination and decommissioning. The workshop prompted very positive discussions on good practice and lessons learned. As a result of its success, a further workshop is planned for 2007.

INDUSTRY'S NUCLEAR MATERIALS BALANCE FIGURES PUBLISHED
Britain's Nuclear Materials Balance was published by the Department of Trade and Industry on December 18. Dounreay shows a positive variation of five kilogrammes, mostly attributable to a successful campaign of drum repacking being carried out and improved techniques to detect uranium within waste stocks. For further information see:
http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_project_updates.htm#Dec0603
http://www.ukaea.org.uk/downloads/dounreay/Simplified_Guide_to_NMB.pdf


DOUNREAY FIRST TO HOST TRIAL OF POSSIBLE NEW SAFEGUARDS MEASURE
Dounreay has been chosen as the first civil nuclear site in the UK to trial a proposed new Euratom safeguards measure that would complement existing verification inspections of nuclear materials. More: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_safeguards_trial.html

DOUNREAY OFFERS SAFE DRIVING COURSES TO ITS STAFF
Following the recent campaigns on road safety and Dounreay's ongoing effort to improve safety for its staff, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary are delivering a series of short modules focused on safe driving and other aspects of road safety. The first of these sessions will cover the safety aspects of driving, a driving demonstration and a series of assessed drives. Further sessions will be offered at a later date on basic vehicle maintenance, driving in adverse weather conditions, the influence of drugs/alcohol and child safety.

WORKERS' FUND BRINGS CHRISTMAS JOY TO NEEDY KIDS
Dounreay Employees Charity Fund (DECF) has again this year supported Caithness FM's Christmas Toy Appeal. For further information see: http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay_local_sponsorship.html

NOVELTY BINS FOR ORMLIE ESTATE
With a donation of 200 from Dounreay, the Cool Cats in Ormlie are well on their way to reaching their target to purchase new novelty bins for the Thurso neighbourhood. An all-girl group aged 9-12 years who meet every week at the Ormlie Centre, are raising funds for new bins to make their area cleaner and more environmentally friendly.

DOUNREAY ASSISTS NEW AFTER SCHOOL SHINTY CLUB
A new after school shinty club for primary school pupils in the Thurso area now has a new stock of helmets thanks to Dounreay. The Thurso Junior Shinty Club had some equipment but were unable to play due to the lack of helmets and lack of funds. Dounreay assisted the club by purchasing 10 new helmets.

 

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