Dounreay Jobs Will Last Longer Than Previously Thought
23rd January 2014
Management at Dounreay are facing the challenge of how to accommodate additional work from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) whilst maintaining the same annual spend, the same Interim End State – and most importantly, the same priority on working safely and securely that the site is renowned for.
The additional work has arisen because activities that were not sufficiently developed by the NDA at the time the competition was run in 2012 have now reached a state of maturity that allows them to be added to the existing programme of work.
Dounreay Managing Director Mark Rouse stressed that this was not happening because of issues with delivery of the current contract and was expected to happen at some point during the first few years; in many ways it is normal business for a complex project of this nature.
“We should stress that the NDA have not cut our budget, and indeed have been able to increase our budget for this current year by £10m to help the situation,” he said.
“The fact is that the schedule of work is currently front end loaded – and so is the additional work, and that means some re-sequencing is necessary. Some of the early work which could always have been done later had we chosen to do so will now be moved to free up time and funds to complete the additional tasks.”
Work is going on to flesh out a number of possible scenarios that fit within the site’s annual budget and time scale, so that the site’s Interim End State will still be achieved by 2023-2025.
These scenarios will be presented to the NDA and Cavendish Dounreay Partnership’s parent body companies at meetings in early February. It is intended that decisions will therefore be made in February, but additional work will continue in parallel as the necessary detail is developed.
“One thing that is clear already is that this additional work will mean the run-down in numbers that we have been forecasting to start in 5-6 years will move out by a number of years, which is good news,” said Mark.
Staff are being kept informed of progress through weekly bulletins, and trade unions, the site’s regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, are also being regularly briefed.
However, Mark also acknowledged that there is a great deal of talk about the potential changes and that could have implications for day-to-day operations.
“We understand that changes of this nature cause concern because of the temporary uncertainty they introduce. We have stressed to all those working at Dounreay that during this period they must maintain their focus on the safety of the work that they do – and that the management team continue to support them in this,” said Mark.
“Decisions about the details of the re-sequencing have not yet been made, but staff can rest assured that they will be the first to be informed when they are.”
Work has started to make safe one of the most hazardous materials left at Dounreay. Highly radioactive liquid, known as raffinate, has been stored in tanks for around 20 years after being produced as a by-product of Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) fuel reprocessing.
Construction of a new facility to support the decommissioning of reactors and demolition of historic active laboratories are just two of Dounreay's major projects expected to be delivered as part of a new framework agreement, potentially worth up to Â£400 million, which is being published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) today. - www.ojeu.eu The decommissioning services framework agreement will initially be for a period of up to 4 years with the possibility of extensions of up to 3 years meaning skyline changes could be delivered over the next decade under the arrangements.
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: â€œI 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.
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