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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 13

30th October 2007

Photograph of Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 13

30th October 2007

Ripping out the innards of Dounreay's famous dome has begun, with the stripping out of the integral reactor ducting and associated equipment that once helped power Britain's first fast breeder reactor.

The reactor well ventilation ducting and some electro-magnetic pump ductwork is being removed from the sphere in order to minimise hazards for future decommissioning work and to open up access routes for the removal of the DFR breeder. Essential safety checks are being carried out prior to the ducts being cut into manageable sections using a special technique for contaminated components. A total of eighty-five metres of redundant ducting will then be wrapped and placed in storage to await packaging and disposal as waste. See:

Dounreay has moved a step nearer competition of its site closure programme with an agreement by regulators to begin "shadow working" as a site licence company. Known as Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, the new company is being established so that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority can tender the site management. Subject to a satisfactory period of shadow working between now and the end of March and the transfer of legal permits, DSRL will replace UKAEA as the body in charge of the programme on April 1, 2008, after which the NDA is expected to begin competition for its ownership. Most existing UKAEA staff at the site will transfer to the new company.

The NDA has outlined funding guidance to Dounreay for the next three financial years. The site looks set to receive around 152 million in financial years 2008/09 and 2009/10, and about 150 million in 2010/11. The figures have been provided by the NDA to allow UKAEA, which is currently carrying out the decommissioning work, to plan ahead. They are in line with on the current funding figure for 2006/07

Randall Bargelt, NDA programme director for Dounreay, said: "Good progress has been made so far on the cleanup work needed at Dounreay, but we know that there is still much to be done. The NDA is prioritising its funding for those sites with the highest hazards. We will continue to assess the impact of work priorities against the available funding and issue further guidance as necessary.

Mr Bargelt added that one the biggest tasks to tackle was the design and build of the remote-handled intermediate level waste encapsulation and storage plant, known as D3900, by 2013 to enable the cleanup of around 80 per cent of the hazard associated with the site's intermediate level waste. The NDA has indicated that up to a further 15 million could be found for 2010/11 towards this plant if a strategy to complete the design and build of D3900 can be agreed with Dounreay.

The NDA is awaiting the outcome of discussions with Government on the Comprehensive Spending Review which will determine budgets for the next three years. These indicative figures have been provided for planning purposes and are still to be confirmed. Once budgets are set then the site licensee has the responsibility of managing the agreed programme of work within the funds allocated.

The purpose built trials and test facility at Janetstown, on the outskirts of Thurso, was initially established to develop the pioneering WVN (Water Vapour Nitrogen) technique for the safe destruction of Dounreay's alkali metal.

This process has been successfully applied at the Prototype Fast Reactor for the clean out of the secondary circuit pipework, the equipment in the plant once used to run the reactor which supplied power to the national grid. The process uses water vapour in a nitrogen atmosphere which eliminates the risk of the hydrogen igniting and has a proven safety record on the site. See:

The newly-formed National Skills Academy Nuclear has selected a consortium consisting of four Scottish colleges, led by North Highland College, to develop and implement a range of Higher National Diplomas for Scotland's nuclear employers. Dounreay's human resource manager Jerry Abbott has been appointed as chairman of the Scottish regional steering group. See:

The post of programme manager for the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership will be taken up on an interim basis by Gordon Cox, a senior member of staff at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, pending a permanent appointment. The partnership was set up to develop economic activity to replace Dounreay. See:

David Broughton, who retired recently from Dounreay after 26 years, has been appointed to the reconstituted Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. This is the body advising Ministers in the UK Government and devolved administrations on the best way to manage intermediate-level waste for future generations. See:

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