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Dounreay Bulletin - Issue 14

14th November 2007

Dounreay has received authorisation from regulators to commence active commissioning of a newly-constructed waste-handling facility. The facility cost 10 million to construct and will increase the site's capacity for storing solid intermediate level waste from the clean-up and demolition of the fast reactor experiment. More:

Dounreay has clocked up a million man-hours without a lost-time accident. The figure is equivalent to 100 consecutive days.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has approved the latest long-range plan for site closure at Dounreay, known as the Lifetime Plan. This shows an increase of 600 million in the total discounted cost, the majority of it due to a change in guidance from NDA about how to construct the plan.

The main reasons for this are:
Improved estimating of costs in later years and identification of gaps in previous plans;
Addition of a store for nuclear fuel and materials. In previous plans, it was assumed this material would transfer to a national fuel store in the 2020s but, in the absence at this stage of a formal agreement to hand over this material, provision needs to be included in the Dounreay plan;
Longer period of storage at Dounreay of intermediate-level waste. The timetable for disposal of ILW to be a national repository was rescheduled, requiring storage of ILW at Dounreay for 10 years longer than previously planned;
Changes to the way pension contributions are calculated.
Since this latest plan was prepared, the Scottish Government has announced that ILW in Scotland will be stored instead of being sent to the proposed repository. The implications of this announcement have yet to be reflected in the plan.

Footnote: In the past, Dounreay has quoted undiscounted rates for the cost of site closure. Government advice to NDA is to use HM Treasury discounted rates of 2.2% per year when estimating future costs. On this basis, the lifetime cost for site closure has increased from 2.091 billion to 2.694 billion. Updated figures for UK sites are contained in the latest NDA annual report.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has published its draft business plan for consultation. This set out its priorities for the next three years, and confirms that the majority of funds will be spent on reducing the highest hazards at Sellafield and Dounreay. See:

Although not as captivating on the Caithness landscape as the famous dome of discovery, the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) that once fed power into the national grid is also undergoing a massive transformation as the plant is pulled apart bit by bit.

Earlier this year, the removal of the main steam stack resulted in the first visible external impact on the west end of the site, leaving a noticeable gap on the Dounreay skyline. The latest phase involves strip-out of the steam-generating building and the three secondary sodium circuits, with the associated redundant plant and equipment being removed. To-date over seven hundred tonnes of disused steel items have been stripped out of the plant for disposal. See:

Dounreay is to open a public information centre to improve its communication about the clean-up and closure of the site. The new centre will give members of the public access to information about the 150 million-a-year decommissioning project and let them talk directly to staff from the site. More:

Dounreay will be carrying out tests on the underground connections of its non-active drains between November 23 and December 19. This will involve a standard industrial dye being used in the drains as a tracer. This may lead to some temporary coloured discharges at points along the coast.

A new report on offshore surveys carried out this year lends support for the emerging picture of particles on the seabed. It points to a very limited spread of high-activity particles (categorised as "significant") and a wider but more diffuse spread eastwards of lower-activity particles ("relevant" and "minor"), with a number moving west into Sandside Bay, and a seaward limit to the detected contamination at about 30 metres' depth. A computer model predicted the presence of particles at the headland at Brims Ness but none was found. See:

Meanwhile, the latest quarterly progress report on particles project has now been published.

The latest edition of Dounreay News includes a report on apprentice-giving, a question-and-answer guide to Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and news of a project to build Scotland's biggest power station on the seabed of the Pentland Firth. See:

The latest edition of Dounreay News includes a report on apprentice-giving, a question-and-answer guide to Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and news of a project to build Scotland's biggest power station on the seabed of the Pentland Firth. See:

Councillor David Bremner, a fitter with UKAEA at Dounreay, has been appointed civic head of Caithness following his recent election to Highland Council. See:


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