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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 6 - July 2006

5th July 2006

Photograph of Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 6 - July 2006

A workforce that can safely deliver the decommissioning and demolition of Britain's fast reactor experiment at Dounreay is a workforce that will be in demand worldwide for its skills. This is the message delivered today by Norman Harrison, director of UKAEA Dounreay, in a new publication setting out the benefits of accelerated clean-up of the site and the efforts being made to find alternative employment for staff whose jobs presently depend on this work. UKAEA has put forward proposals to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to accelerate the completion of the clean-up from 2036 to 2033 and, together with its business partners AMEC and CH2MHILL, is looking to advance this further.
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A planning application for the construction of facilities for disposing of solid low level radioactive waste from decommissioning Dounreay has been submitted to the Highland Council. UKAEA is seeking permission to construct a series of shallow engineered vaults and an administration block adjacent to the existing nuclear site. The facilities are required for disposal of up to a maximum of 175,000 cubic metres of solid low level waste which is expected to be generated during the decommissioning of the site. The facility would be required for the lifespan of the decommissioning programme at an estimated total lifetime cost to design, construct, operate and close of around 110 million.
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A strategy has been published for developing alternative economic activity in Caithness and north Sutherland to succeed decommissioning work at Dounreay. The document has been produced by a working group involving community and business leaders, and has been issued for consultation. See Here

The Dounreay Stakeholder Group (DSG) has been asked by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to collate the views of local people and organisations and make a recommendation to the NDA for the end state of the Dounreay site. UKAEA, with its external consultants, will manage the technical work and consultation process on behalf of the DSG who will oversee the transparency of the process. For further information See Here

The Dounreay dome has been the subject of recent discussion as to whether it should be listed by Historic Scotland after it has been decommissioned, or whether it should be demolished.

It is estimated that the dome will require a six-figure sum to maintain following completion of the decommissioning work. However, a poll run by The Scotsman showed that the majority of people

involved in the poll were in favour of retaining the dome. A consultation on site end states, planned for later in the year, will discuss what should remain on site following completion of the decommissioning works. Historic Scotland and other interested parties will be involved.

Work is underway at Dounreay to destroy one of the largest single hazards left over from the fast reactor research and development programme. A new plant has started operating which will remove, treat and destroy the 57 tonnes of liquid metal still remaining inside the landmark Dounreay Fast Reactor. The pioneering plant is designed to safely dispose of the coolant using a proven means of dissolution to transform the highly reactive metal into sodium/potassium nitrate and water. For further detailsSee Here

During the underwater camera survey of the D9814 pond in D1251, an area of higher radiation was discovered. Regulators have been informed and investigations are underway to determine the cause. It poses no threat to the workforce as it continues to be shielded by the pond water.

UKAEA Dounreay has obtained an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP OES) at a cost saving of nearly 100,000. The spectrometer, which is more advanced than any others on the Dounreay site, was no longer required by G E Health Care in Amersham, who are decommissioning their facility.

The spectrometer carries out elemental analysis on liquid samples by measuring light emissions at various wavelengths and identifies the components of the sample in their respective quantities. It will be used in laboratories at Dounreay in support of commissioning projects analysing low, medium and high active waste samples. It will also be used in support of the site's effluent discharge facility as and when required. The instrument will be dismantled, shipped to Dounreay and rebuilt on site.

UKAEA informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Sandside Estate on June 20 of a particle detected and retrieved from the beach at Sandside during routine monitoring. Laboratory analysis shows an activity level of 396,000 bequerels (Cs 137). The previous highest activity level for a particle found at Sandside was 300,000 bequerels (Cs 137) in September 1999. A further particle was found on Tuesday 4th July. The finds take the number of recorded particles at Sandside since 1984 to 63.
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A delegation from the Russian Federal Medical Biological Agency and the Norwegian radiation Protection Agency visited Dounreay on June 21 as part of a UK-wide fact-finding trip. The group visited a number of facilities to learn more about the regulatory framework and met officials from key organisations involved in decommissioning in the UK.
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UKAEA Dounreay, on behalf of NDA, has donated 200 towards running costs of Gymted and Gymted Mothers and Toddlers in Thurso. These classes cover a range of pre-school ages with the main objective to teach the children balance, co-ordination and social interaction skills. The classes are currently being held at the Sea Cadets Hall in Sir Archibald Road, Thurso.

Dounreay Workshops Football Club have benefited from a donation of 300 from UKAEA Dounreay, on behalf of NDA towards start up costs for this year's football season. The team originated from the Dounreay Workshops in the late 1960s and now approximately 75% of the squad still work at Dounreay today.

On 22 June in the loading facility at the Waste Receipt, Assay, Characterisation and Supercompaction facility (WRACS), the lid of a half-height ISO container, which was being lifted remotely by crane, became disengaged from the lifting equipment and fell about 4 metres. Checks confirmed that there had been no damage to the plant or equipment, and no one was injured. An internal investigation was launched, which found that the lid of the container had been slightly buckled. It seems that the condition of the lid prevented the electromagnets, which pick up and hold the lid during the moving operation, from getting a proper grip.

As a precautionary measure, operations in the loading facility were temporarily suspended until it was fully understood what caused the lid to disconnect, and measures put into place to prevent it from happening again. The incident has been reported to HSE as a Dangerous Occurrence under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

A UKAEA subcontractor employee suffered pain in the arm while lifting a bag of rubbish on site, which resulted in an absence of several days. This was an old injury which appeared to be aggravated as a result of normal duties.

Visitor numbers to the ever popular Dounreay Visitor Centre have continued to rise this season, with over 3,000 visitors through its doors since opening at Easter. The centre tells the story of the pioneering work carried out at the site during the last fifty years and how UKAEA and its partners are working with the community to establish Caithness as a global centre of excellence in nuclear decommissioning. This is the penultimate year for the centre, currently located in the old air traffic control tower. The past, present and future of Dounreay will then be told as part of the 'Caithness story' in the new Caithness Horizons facility at Thurso Town Hall, scheduled to open early 2008.

Number of days since a lost time accident - 12 days
(No. of man-hours since a lost time accident - 65432 hours)

Liquid metal destroyed in decommissioning Prototype Fast Reactor
Volume - 1136 tonnes
Percentage complete - 75 %

NB Plant currently shut down while major reactor components are jacked up out of their seal.

Employment levels May June July
UKAEA - Full Time Equivalents 1173 1160 1144
Sub-contractors - number of personal passes 1220 1206 1198
Sub-contractors - number of gate-held passes 232 179 180

Research reactor reprocessing liquor conditioned as solid intermediate-level waste
Total no. of drums to date - 1879
Percentage complete to date - 37.6%
Conditioned in current financial year - 0
NB Plant currently shut down while spillage is cleaned up.

Solid Low Level Waste processed for disposal

Total so far this financial year - 1727 drums


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