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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 25

14th May 2007

Photograph of Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 25

Workers at Dounreay are set to tuck into a free cooked breakfast as a reward for improving the site's safety record.

Earlier this year, the site announced it would provide for a free breakfast for every worker whenever the site went 60 consecutive days without an accident that required more than localised first aid. The site reached the milestone during March and vouchers are now being issued to all staff. The safety measure is known as the total recordable incident rate (TRIR) and the improved performance of the workforce has seen the site rise steadily in an NDA table that compares TRIR performance across all 20 of its sites.

Another measure used to record safety performance is the rate of Lost Time Accidents - an injury that keeps someone off their work for more than three days. Dounreay had clocked up more than 230 consecutive days - equivalent to more than 2.7 million man-hours of work - without an LTA when an asbestos removal worker slipped and broke an arm on May 3. Under a new safety dividend scheme introduced on April 1, UKAEA has agreed to donate 2,500 to the Dounreay Communities Fund for every calendar month without a LTA. A payment of 2,500 for April has now been made.

Dounreay is moving forward with the latest minor organisational changes in order to put itself in a better position to support decommissioning activities during the forthcoming financial year. The changes introduced on April 1 are also a precursor, subject to regulatory approval, to achieving shadow operation of the site licence company in Autumn 2007. The current Dounreay Division of UKAEA officially becomes Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) on April 1, 2008.

Some physical moves have already taken place, with the relocation of payroll and finance staff from Thurso to the Dounreay site. A few name changes are required to key personnel to line up with the requirements of being a company, e.g. Managing Director as opposed to Dounreay Director.

Now a hive of activity, the large metal-clad structure built adjacent to the famous Dounreay sphere is being kitted out with the equipment needed to remove the breeder elements from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR).

One of the two process cell liners, which resemble colossal metal caskets, has been installed in the breeder containment building. These will house the equipment responsible for dismantling the breeder elements by removing the cladding and exposing the uranium slugs in preparation for washing and packaging into 500 litre drums ready for storage.

Redundant equipment from other areas of the site is being re-used within the new facility, with turnstiles and modern monitoring devices being utilised as a cost-saving element of the project. Also progressing well on schedule is the installation of the intricate ventilation system, interior block work and installation of electrical services. More:

An apprenticeship at Dounreay continues to be a popular choice for young people living in the north of Scotland. Fifty-four applications were received by UKAEA after advertisements for its next intake starting in August. Twenty-seven young people were short-listed for interview for the eight places on the four-year apprenticeship. Dounreay apprentice training manager Jim Swan said: "The standard of young people who applied was exceptionally high. This made the selection process difficult, which was a nice problem to have and reflects well on the quality of young people in the area."

The isolation of Dounreay's shaft is progressing well with the drilling and grouting of the first phase of boreholes, known as the blocker holes, completed. In total 41 boreholes were cored with a combined total depth of 3.5km. From an early stage, results in this phase have been positive with a noticeable reduction in water entering the shaft.

The next phase, known as the primary boreholes, commenced at the end of April. A total of 87 boreholes will be drilled and grouted in this phase, a combined projected depth of 7.1km. To date, a depth of 511m has been cored and 170m of that grouted. Following the primary phase a further 60 boreholes will be drilled and grouted.

A total of 308 boreholes will have been drilled and grouted to construct the isolation barrier, including the field trials, demonstration barrier and liquid effluent discharge tunnel infill, with a projected total depth of 22.8km.

A rain cover is being constructed over the top of the shaft to reduce further the volume of water entering the shaft. The construction is substantially complete, with the installation of roof vents, permanent roof hatch and internal lighting due for completion by mid-May. The cost to construct this rain cover is estimated at 55,000. Ritchies are managing the project with the contract for the steel work being awarded to Isleburn.

A permanent electrical supply, which is required for the grouting equipment, is also being installed and nearing completion.

Plans to re-locate some of the site's communications off-site have moved forward with vacant premises in Thurso being identified. It is hoped that following some modifications the community office will be open in early summer.

The decision to open an office followed the early closure of the Dounreay Visitor Centre, the former World War Two air traffic control tower, earlier this year. The building was damaged during severe flooding in November with further deterioration in its condition over the winter months.

The demolition of the Dounreay Visitor Centre commenced on May 2nd and is expected to be completed by end of July.

Dounreay is concentrating on providing a new exhibition about the site decommissioning as part of a multi-million pound visitor development in Thurso. See:

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has published its annual plan for 2007/08, setting out its priorities for the operation and clean-up of 20 civil sites. See:

For Dounreay, the plan confirms the priority attached to reduction of the major hazards - the destruction of alkali metal used in the fast reactors and solidification of liquid wastes from historical reprocessing.

Permission for access to Sandside Beach to monitor for radioactive particles has been withdrawn by the land-owner. SEPA has been informed. UKAEA Dounreay remains in contact with Sandside Estate. To make best use of its resources, UKAEA will focus on surveys of other local beaches which had been programmed to be checked over the next three months as well as a survey of Reay golf course. The surveys of Peedie Sands and Murkle beach are now complete.

The spotlight falls on the shift teams who keep Dounreay safe and secure around the clock in the latest edition of the site's monthly newspaper. A centre-page spread focuses on the work of the three shift teams who are the backbone of the site, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. See:

Caithness firms have formed an alliance to promote a range of skills to compete for work in the onshore and marine renewable energy market. The Caithness Energy Alliance aims to market the advantages of the Caithness area, with its renewable energy resources, industrial track record and the skills available.

The Alliance will showcase at the All-Energy conference and exhibition - the biggest event in the renewable energy calendar - in Aberdeen on 23rd and 24th May. The Caithness stand will provide an opportunity to access the market with many of the key organisations involved in renewable energy in attendance.

Attendance at the conference has been funded by UKAEA, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and HIE Caithness and Sutherland. For further details contact Louise Smith at Ormlie Renewables, part of Ormlie Community Association, telephone 01847 893486 or email: louise[AT]

Following confirmation that Harwell undertook tests on human tissue samples, at least until 1981, a full review is now being carried out of UKAEA records to enable all the evidence to be presented to the Redfern Inquiry. A project team led by Alex Rankine includes specialists from different disciplines, such as medical, records and legal. A helpline has been established to enable staff and relatives to contact the project team. The number is 0773 428 2510.

A number of cases identified so far at Harwell involved samples of deceased persons whose employment history included time at Dounreay. The evidence so far shows that the samples were tested for radioactivity at Harwell on the instructions of coroners. See: and


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