World's Deepest Nuclear Clean-up Underway At Dounreay
25th June 2021
The shaft and silo project ‘advanced transition' work is getting underway at Dounreay.
Radioactive waste was historically consigned to the 65 metre deep shaft and the silo, an underground waste storage vault, over several decades starting in the late 1950s. Now the higher activity waste must be retrieved and repackaged, suitable for long-term storage in a safe modern facility.
Retrieving the waste from the shaft is one of the most complex decommissioning jobs that the site must complete, and innovative concept designs evaluating the techniques and equipment to be used for removing and processing the waste have been developed over the last decade.
In 2007, in a world first for Dounreay, the shaft was encircled in a boot-shaped ring of grout to isolate the radioactive waste from the environment, preventing large volumes of groundwater flowing into the shaft during waste retrieval and becoming contaminated.
Last year DSRL awarded the £7.5 million contract for the advanced transition works at the shaft and silo to Nuvia and Graham Construction. The work includes the rerouting of existing services as well as construction and demolition works, preparing the waste facility to be emptied of higher activity waste.
Project manager Kirstin Polson said:Cleaning out the legacy waste from the shaft and silo is one of the most significant decommissioning projects at Dounreay.
We are now at the enabling phase of this major project to retrieve the waste using remote equipment in a specially designed facility, and to process it for long term safe storage.
Dounreay is Scotland's largest nuclear decommissioning project and is widely recognised as one of Europe’s most complex nuclear closure programmes. The work is being delivered by DSRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The first roof beams have been lifted into place at Dounreay's newest shielded radioactive waste store. Seventy six beams, weighing a total of 1,400 tonnes, the equivalent of 116 double decker buses, are needed to complete the mammoth roof structure which will have a total weight of 3,300 tonnes.
Six new decommissioning operative trainees have started work at Dounreay, as part of a structured programme to develop skills required to safely decommission the site. DSRL is collaborating with Nuvia, Morson and GDES who have all recruited trainees.
Innovation in the face of adversity earned Scotland's largest nuclear site a shot at Scotland's top event award. About 100 or so workers normally attend Dounreay's annual showcase event, when staff are recognised for reaching levels of excellence in their work to decommission the plant.
Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) has awarded two contracts worth a combined GBP11.2 million (USD15.9 million) to USA-based engineering group Jacobs for decommissioning work at the Dounreay site in Scotland. Under the contracts, Jacobs will upgrade the ventilation system at the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) and develop the decommissioning strategy for the fast reactor fuel reprocessing plant in the Fuel Cycle Area.
Airline suit work has restarted at Dounreay after more than a year's delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing an airline suit is cumbersome and the wearer needs to be dressed and undressed by a dedicated team of helpers who then provide support throughout the task.
Ground-breaking research published in Nature Communications shows that traces of plutonium in the environment can be identified as being from global or local sources. Using soil samples taken from Dounreay, an area near to the site and 2 areas at a distance from the site, the research showed that it was possible to identify whether minute traces of plutonium in the soil came from plutonium ‘bred' in a reactor or from global fallout.
Statement issue18 March 2021 by NDA, Dounreay and Sellafield. In 2013 we concluded the development of our strategy to remove unirradiated nuclear material from Dounreay and consolidate it at Sellafield.
Dounreay has awarded an important waste clean-up contract to Jacobs as the site plans for the future of its deepest historic radioactive waste store. Jacobs and its supporting partners have been awarded a 6-year contract to provide a design management team to produce a fully integrated design for the shaft and silo project.
14 successful companies have been awarded contracts to come up with innovative approaches to remotely sort and segregate radioactive waste. The ‘Sort and Seg' innovation competition, worth £3.9 million in total, was launched in July 2020.
David Peattie, Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has announced the appointment of Lawrie Haynes as Chair Designate of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL).