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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 13

24th October 2006

A working group chaired by John Thurso MP and comprising of key stakeholders in the economy around Dounreay has completed its work with the publication of a strategy for addressing the social and economic consequences of site closure. The MP for Caithenss, Sutherland and Easter Ross said: "Our remit was to create a strategy. This work is complete. The task now is to turn strategy into action and we have made a number of recommendations as to how that should happen. I would also like to thank all the members of the group for all the work they have done." See:

Highlands and Islands Enterprise announced on October 19 it is to invest an extra 12 million in Caithness and Sutherland. The extra funding, a 50 per cent increase on the current budget allocation for the area, will be used over the next three years to help address the considerable challenges posed to the area's economy by the decommissioning of Dounreay. (See:

Following HIE's announcement, a further initiative has been undertaken by its local enterprise company CASE in establishing a presence on-site at Dounreay. An office has been set aside, at Room 5 in D1300 where CASE staff will be available to meet with any individual who would like to call in for an informal chat about their future and to find out how best CASE may be able to provide support for their plans. The CASE office will be staffed by Charles Findlay and Keith Muir, two highly experienced business development professionals. Any discussion with CASE will be held in complete confidence. Initially the office will be open every Monday and Thursday from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm.

UKAEA Dounreay has published updated figures about employment at the site and projections of reducing manpower needs as more of the fast reactor experiment is cleaned out and demolished. The report states that current employment levels of approximately 2,000 are expected to reduce by 500 over the next five years and upon completion of the decommissioning programme in 2033, employment will have reduced to 23.

UKAEA Dounreay acting site director Simon Middlemas said: "There are overwhelming safety, environmental and security reasons for completing the clean-up and demolition of the site as quickly as it is safe to do so. But I recognise that closure of the site and the inevitable loss of employment in decommissioning has major social and economic consequences. That is why UKAEA, supported by our business partners AMEC and CH2MHILL, welcomes today's announcement and will continue to work closely with Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and other partners to support the regeneration of the area's economy." See:

The Scottish Parliament is to be debate the social and economic consequences arising from the closure of Dounreay. A motion tabled by Jamie Stone, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, and due for debate on October 25, calls on the the Parliament to note "the severe economic and social challenges for the far north presented by the accelerated run-down and decommissioning at Dounreay and considers that the Scottish Executive should work with the UK Government and other key players to ensure that a costed and funded strategy is put in place as soon as possible so that suitable replacement industries and jobs can be established for the years to come".

Operators at Dounreay have completed an extremely challenging repair in the disassembly cave of the fast reactor fuel reprocessing plant. The facility processed spent fuel rods from the prototype fast reactor (PFR) until 1996.
Irradiated fuel was received from PFR and reprocessed in a series of heavily shielded caves. The largest of these was the disassembly cave, where the fuel assemblies were dismantled and the fuel pins cropped, before being transferred to the dissolver cell for dissolving in nitric acid. More:

During the last year, UKAEA has progressed significantly on the plans for a new plant to treat certain liquid and solid radioactive wastes that are a legacy of reprocessing fast reactor fuel at Dounreay. Subject to planning and other consents, construction of the waste treatment plant is expected to commence around early 2008 and is estimated to employ 120 workers during the construction phases. See:

Four historical reactor components, originally sent to D8571 (part of the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor complex) in the late 1980s for examination, have now been returned to the Prototype Fast Reactor decommissioning team. The absorber sub-assemblies were used in PFR to control the rate of the nuclear reaction. Their return allows the DMTR decommissioning team to complete the first phase of post-operative clean out on the D8571 Post Irradiation Examination cave where the components had been stored.

The return of the absorber sub-assemblies to PFR also completes the reconciliation of all the remaining irradiated PFR absorbers. They will be dismantled and the absorber pins de-cladded in the irradiated fuel cell at PFR during 2007/08.

Dounreay has been sharing its expertise in the safe decommissioning of redundant nuclear facilities to assist the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

Ken Percival, of Dounreay 's assurance unit, travelled to Lithuania at the request of the International Atomic Energy Agency to support a workshop about decommissioning of the Ignalina reactor. The workshop focussed on practical experience in effective planning, health and safety management and radiation protection during decommissioning and was attended by about 20 Lithuanian nuclear industry personnel. One of the conditions for Lithuania's accession to the EU was the early decommissioning of its two RBMK reactors at Ignalina. Decommissioning will be largely funded by the EU, and since the NPP represents about 70% of the country's electricity requirements it poses significant technical and social challenges.


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