Dounreay revises site closure plans
10th May 2014
Two years into its major contract to complete the clean-up and shutdown of Dounreay, the consortium in charge of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd is now revising its programme of work to accommodate changes being made by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The NDA awarded a contract in April 2012 to Cavendish Dounreay Partnership. At the time the NDA was seeking comments on the credible options for the future of nuclear materials at Dounreay.
Subsequently the decision was taken to transfer the nuclear materials to Sellafield. This means funding is no longer required in the later years of the programme to build high-security stores. Instead, funding is required in the earlier years to meet the costs of packaging and transport of the fuel.
DSRL management are briefing staff this week on the work now underway to accommodate these changes in the clean-up programme within the funding available from the NDA.
"Removing the requirement to modernise the stores at Dounreay and replacing it with a programme to transfer the fuel to Sellafield starting this year, removes both the modernisation costs from the later years of the decommissioning programme and substantial security costs from long-term care and maintenance of the site,” said DSRL managing director Mark Rouse, “but it does require significant preparation and handling operations, and will add transport and associated security costs in the next few years of the decommissioning programme.
"In order to insert the removal of the fuel into the earlier years of the programme and release the several hundred million pounds needed to fund this, some other work that had been planned for this period needs to be moved out to later years.
“A new plan showing how the fuels removal programme integrates with the rest of the decommissioning work should be ready by the autumn 2014. DSRL expects no reduction in supply chain spend and will be looking to place substantial additional new packages of work into the supply chain over a longer period of time than the original contract award plan shows.
"In short, this is a 'spend to save' measure. Although the fuels consolidation and removal programme adds several hundred million pounds to the bill for Dounreay during its decommissioning phase, it will remove even more in security costs from its long term care and maintenance.”
Meanwhile, the NDA will look to utilise its portfolio management process, where efficiencies and savings made across its estate can be re-allocated to other projects where they represent value for money and progress the NDA's mission, to assist DSRL in the near term as it works through the longer term implications of accommodating this further scope.
Two years and 20% in, the contract to take the Dounreay site to an interim end state by 2025 saving well over £1bn is progressing well. All annual milestones have been met to date, significant progress has been made in hazard reduction projects, and construction of the first two new low level waste repository vaults has been completed.
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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