Over One Hundred Nuclear Fuel Particles Removed
22nd August 2009
More than a hundred fragments of spent nuclear fuel were removed from the seabed in the latest phase of work to clean up and shut down the former nuclear research site at Dounreay.
The particles were detected and retrieved by a remotely-operated vehicle that systematically scanned an area of seabed equivalent in size to more than 10 football pitches.
The robotic system recovered 115 particles during the two-month operation. Of these, 29 were in the higher hazard category defined by independent experts as a "significant" threat to health.
Another 16 suspected fragments detected by the ROV also gave readings in this category but were not retrieved. Six could not be targeted accurately for retrieval and 10 were buried deeper in the sediment than the 45cm reach of the ROV retrieval system.
Monitoring of local beaches was carried out during the seabed clean-up. A total of 15 particles, none of them "significant", were detected and retrieved onshore since seabed clean-up started on June 1. Of these, 14 were removed from local beaches.
Two small areas of elevated radioactivity were detected during a survey of land adjacent to the site and zoned for development as a low-level waste disposal facility. One of these contained a "minor" particle. Both areas were excavated and this survey is continuing.
Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL reported all the finds to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. The results will also be considered by the Particles Retrieval Advisory Group, a body of independent experts set up to advise DSRL and SEPA.
The offshore clean-up is the implementation phase of a major study carried out with public consultation to identify the best practicable environmental option to address a legacy of discharges from the former research site.
This summer's work focused on an area at the west of the main particle plume on the seabed. The plume maps were produced by Dounreay Particles Advisory Group, a body of independent experts, and based on the results of studies and detailed statistical analysis. The maps indicate that the most radioactive particle remnants are located in this area, where fishing is prohibited.
Phil Cartwright, particles and contaminated land manager at DSRL, said: "This was the first full phase of seabed clean-up following a demonstration last autumn of the detection and retrieval technique.
"The area targeted was discussed with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Particles Retrieval Advisory Group and provided a range of challenges to the detection equipment. The information we gained will assist DSRL to develop the best way forward for this project and by SEPA and PRAG to consider the effectiveness of the retrieval technique and if the plume map needs to be changed. The retrieval of 115 particles, with total radioactivity of 500 million becquerels (of ceasium-137) is a positive start to the seabed clean-up."
Employees from across the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority group have been honoured at a prestigious national awards ceremony in London. The Women in Nuclear (WiN) Annual Awards recognises those who have gone above and beyond to promote gender balance and diversity across the nuclear sector.
The latest particle find on the Dounreay foreshore was on 17th January 2020. See the updated list.
Starting Salary: £12,595 in Year 1 rising to £18,191 in Year 4. Dounreay is working at the forefront of nuclear decommissioning, waste management and environmental restoration.
Dounreay heritage strategy - Updated 26 November 2019 The Dounreay Heritage Strategy was published in 2010 and is managed by the DSRL heritage officer with advice from a panel of external experts from Historic Environment Scotland (HES), National Museums Scotland (NMS), Highlife Highland (HLH) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The Heritage Advisory Panel held its ninth meeting on 26 March 2019 in Nucleus: The Nuclear and Caithness Archives.
As part of the nuclear sector deal, to foster ever-stronger links between the British and Japanese nuclear industry, Councillor Struan Mackie who represents Thurso and North West Caithness on Highland Council (Deputy-Chair of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group) undertook a five day Japanese visit to discuss the impact of nuclear decommissioning on local communities with stakeholders in Tsuruga City, Fukui prefecture. The whistle-stop visit included two days in Tsuruga on , the home of the Japanese Atomic Energy Agencies fast reactor ‘Monju', is generally regarded to be a ‘partner plant' to Dounreay's PFR in Caithness.
Dounreay's latest supplier information day, hosted jointly with companies appointed to its decommissioning services framework, has proved popular with companies from around the UK. Around 200 people packed into a venue in Wick, Caithness to hear about plans for future work to decommission the site.
Construction work on the latest radioactive waste store at Dounreay is setting records. The concrete floor slab has just been completed ahead of schedule and with an excellent safety record.
This latest approval brings the total number of schemes authorised by TPR up to 35, following the approval of the University of Oxford Staff Pension Scheme earlier this month (8 October). CNPP is an industry-wide scheme, set up in 2006, for workers in the nuclear decommissioning industry.
Half of the last remaining radioactive fuel elements jammed for decades inside the iconic Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) have now been removed. DFR with its famous dome once led the world in fast breeder technology.
Seven Dounreay apprentices have received their indenture certificates at a special event to mark the successful conclusion of their 4-year training programme. The latest group ‘graduating' joined the company in 2015 - the 60th year apprentices had been part of the workforce at Dounreay and the first time in more than a decade that design office apprentices had been recruited.
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