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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 18

10th January 2007

Safety has become a way of life in dismantling the Dounreay Fast Reactor. Four years without a lost time accident is no mean feat in any industry, but this achievement has been all the sweeter with the knowledge of the enormous range of work undertaken at DFR and the mix of people employed.

Everybody's aim at work is to ensure that people work safely and go home with the same numbers of fingers and toes they woke up with. Not an unreasonable desire and reinforced by the Health & Safety at Work Act. So why is this achievement so special and how have they reached this position at DFR? See:

On behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, UKAEA Dounreay has submitted a planning application to Highland Council for revised proposals for a replacement ventilation system to support decommissioning of the Fuel Cycle Area (FCA).

Earlier this year, the Highland Council granted permission for a new FCA ventilation system. However since then further work to optimise decommissioning of the FCA facilities has had significant impacts on the design for the replacement ventilation system to the extent that a new planning application was required to be lodged and the previous plan withdrawn.

The revised plans, which have the potential to reduce the cost to the taxpayer by 5 million, consist of the installation of two small stacks with fan arrangements and connective ducts which will provide a discharge service to those FCA facilities within the longer term decommissioning plan. This will offer sufficient flexibility to allow further evolution of the decommissioning plans. More:

A state-of-the-art radiation-seeking camera is being used at Dounreay to discover and retrieve tiny amounts of valuable radioactive material that previously would have been hard to detect.

The gamma camera shows up areas where there are levels of higher radiation in a similar way to a heat-seeking camera. It has recently been used in the materials test reactor fuel element production plant, now in the final stages of decommissioning, to identify the position of radioactive material in the final line of gloveboxes to be cleaned out.

The camera is just one of the many modern items of equipment that Dounreay is using to detect small amounts of radioactive material which had remained hidden in plant vessels and pipework and which had been "written off" during the days when the plants were operational. As the decommissioning of the plants gathers pace, it is important to ensure that the location of all nuclear material is identified and recorded. More:

Dounreay is to continue consulting the public on the options for dealing with radioactive particles in the marine environment during 2007. Following the initial stage consultation carried out in 2006, UKAEA has made good progress building up a fuller picture of the extent of the contamination and publication of the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group's 3rd report means the site is now in a position to seek views on a short-list of clean-up options.

Exhibitions giving members of the public an opportunity to find out about the work to date and the next steps to identify the best practicable environmental option will take place at:

Royal Hotel, Thurso - 1030-2030hrs, Monday January 15
Victoria Hall, Reay - 1230-2030hrs, Tuesday, January 16
Castletown Drill Hall - 1030-2030hrs, Wednesday, January 17
Mackays Hotel, Wick - 1030-2030hrs, Thursday, January 18
Independently-facilitated workshops will take place in February when various groups will look at the potential options in depth and views taken into account on the relative importance of the option criteria. More:

During a routine survey at Sandside Beach on December 15, a radioactive object was discovered towards the eastern end of the beach, lying in seaweed close to the water's edge. The object appeared to be made of a dark-coloured plastic, and was about eight inches by three inches in area and over an inch thick. It appeared to have been partly melted or burnt.

Following laboratory measurements conducted at Dounreay, the object was found to contain Caesium137 at a level of about 4,600 bequerels. The radioactivity was found to be more concentrated in the central area. What appears to be a plastic item, with a rubber-like cap, is located within it and is of interest in trying to identify the origin of the find. More:

Dounreay's monitoring contractor carried out a survey of Peedie Beach in Dunnet Bay between December 27-29, as part of the site's programme to detect and retrieve radioactive materials from the environment. No particles were detected and UKAEA will be carrying out checks on completeness of coverage.

Mike Brown, the Dounreay Fast Reactor's Decommissioning Manager recently went 'back to the floor' to experience first hand a day in the life of his DFR team. Read on as Mike recounts his day. More:

Dounreay has sponsored Thurso Camera Club's Highland Challenge. The Highland Challenge is the premier photographic competition held annually between seven camera clubs in the Highland area, and was hosted recently by Thurso Camera Club. The all-day event took place in the All Stars Factory, Ormlie Road, Thurso.

Dounreay has sponsored new training equipment for local youth football club Caithness United. The club integrates youth soccer in the county and currently runs two teams for under-13s and under-15s.


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