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UKAEA Awards �3 Million Reactor Clean-up Contract

17th October 2004

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has awarded a contract to ALSTEC Ltd for the construction of a new plant to clean up radioactive effluent that will arise during the next phase of decommissioning the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay.

The effluent will be produced during cleaning of components and facilities that are coated with sodium liquid metal which was used as a reactor coolant. Already more than 500 of the 1500 tonnes of this metal has been destroyed in a �17 million plant built on site. The subsequent cleaning of residual sodium from components will generate effluent containing radioactive caesium-137 and cobalt-60 and this must be cleaned up before it can be discharged safely to sea.

The contract is valued in the region of �3 million. The new plant will include ion exchange columns containing specialist resin to trap radioactivity as effluent flows through it. A contract was let to Prague University to investigate the performance of different resin types to ensure the selected resin will provide the highest practicable standards of environmental protection. The radioactivity trapped in the resin will be stored on site.

Project manager Mick Moore described the contract award as a milestone and the conclusion of a significant programme of preparatory work. He added: "The destruction of all 1500 tonnes of sodium will be a major milestone in dealing with one of the site's major hazards. It is then important to clean up the remaining components and facilities. This announcement today is a significant step in dealing with this legacy in a manner that protects the environment."

ALSTEC project manager Jim Fryer said they were delighted to be awarded this contract: "We are very conscious that this facility is integral to the accelerated decommissioning of Dounreay. ALSTEC is already involved in
other decommissioning work at Dounreay and we are certain this experience, together with the expertise that a national company like ALSTEC brings, will ensure a superbly built plant delivered to UKAEA's satisfaction."

Mr Fryer said ALSTEC would require additional labour for the duration of the contract. The contract will provide spin-offs for local contractors. ALSTEC intends to use M M Miller of Wick for much of the civil engineering works and JGC Engineering and Technical Services for work on the mechanical ngineering pipework.

Preparation of the site, which included the diversion of some services, has been carried out by John Gunn & Son, Lybster.

 

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