Scottish Minister Gets Updated On Decommisioning At Dounreay
17th July 2008
Scottish Government Minister Richard Lochhead today visited Dounreay to see for himself how waste from the shutdown and clean-up of Scotland's biggest nuclear site is being managed. Richard Lochhead is the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.
The fact-finding visit took him inside the site's fuel cycle area to witness the dismantling of plants that once supported Britain's nuclear research programme.
Decommissioning of these facilities between now and 2025 is expected to result in up to 175,000 cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste and almost 15,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level radioactive waste.
Mr Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, visited plants that are processing this waste and getting it into a form that is safe for long-term storage or disposal.
He also visited the shaft, an historic waste disposal site for intermediate-level waste that will be emptied as part of the site clean-up, and was updated on plans to begin clearing particles from the most affected area of seabed near Dounreay.
Mr Lochhead was accompanied by Stephen Henwood, chairman of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The NDA owns Dounreay and funds its clean-up.
Later, the Minister met community representatives in Thurso where he was briefed on progress to regenerate the local economy. A key feature is the development of a new power station harnessing the tidal energy of the Pentland Firth.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd managing director Simon Middlemas, who hosted the visit, said: "Turning the historic collection of redundant nuclear research facilities at Dounreay into conditioned waste that is safe for future generations is one of the most demanding clean-up projects in the nuclear industry today, so I was delighted to be able to show the progress we are making.
"Equally, having seen the efforts we are making to close down one industry, it was important that the Minister saw the efforts being made by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and others to generate new industry that can sustain the area in the longer term, particular the exciting opportunities in tidal energy that the site is supporting."
Shaft decommissioning project manager Warren Jones (left) with the Minister (second left) and NDA chairman Stephen Henwood (right)
Engineers at Dounreay have raided a scrap car and a kitchen can opener to help decommission one of the site's reactors. The handbrake from a vintage 1968 Ford Cortina has been used to help steer a camera, attached to wheels taken from can openers, into the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) where a detailed survey inside the plant was completed.
Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has submitted a planning application to the Highland Council covering a series of decommissioning projects expected to take place between 2018 and the site's shut down, also known as the interim end state. The application, which is the last of three planning phases covering the overall decommissioning of the site, follows engagement undertaken earlier this year including public events and an opportunity to comment on draft documents online.
Drone technology is helping Dounreay reduce the risk of accidents and save money on its inspection of buildings. A camera mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle is taking over tasks previously carried out by workers on elevated work platforms.
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.
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