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19th September 2007


Management from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine have spent this week at Dounreay learning how Britain is decommissioning its fast reactor programme.

The primary interest of the delegation has been to share and compare the experience of Chernobyl in managing the change from reactor operations to decommissioning. This includes learning from the steps being taken at Dounreay to retain a suitably skilled and qualified workforce for the duration of the decommissioning programme and how the local economy can be sustained beyond closure.

Dounreay and Chernobyl are both located in relatively remote locations, so face similar social and economic challenges during their transition from operation to closure.

During their five-day visit, which ends today, the delegation visited various facilities at Dounreay being decommissioned.

They met programme managers responsible for the 2.9 billion site clean-up plan, held discussions with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and spoke with site officials helping local development agencies plan for life after Dounreay.

They also visited the North Highland College, Thurso, to learn about its role in the delivery of training and reskilling for decommissioning workers.

The Dounreay experience was recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of its efforts to assist Chernobyl management with their closure planning.

Dounreay was selected as the location for the visit following participation by local representatives of UKAEA and British engineering contractor NUKEM in IAEA working groups on training and socio-economic development.

The delegation shared some of the social and economic challenges they expect during decommissioning of the reactors at Chernobyl.

Mr Igor Gramotkin, director general of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, led the delegation. He was accompanied by plant technical director Andrii Bilyk; head of the decommissioning Vladimir Gavrysh; the head of the Chernobyl training centre Vladimir Mendintsov; and head translator Vladimir Beznoschenko.

Sandy McWhirter, UKAEA's international marketing director, said: "UKAEA is internationally recognised as a leader in managing the shift from operations to safe decommissioning. We are seeking to provide these skills to the international community both during and after decommissioning of the Dounreay site. Visits such as this enable us to demonstrate our skills and experiences and to gain an insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist."

Alan Scott, NUKEM's decommissioning project manager at Dounreay, said: "The feedback from Igor Gramotkin and his team has been very positive. They were very grateful for the opportunity to share information and learn from the Dounreay experience. Although the problems of the Chernobyl site are different to those at Dounreay, the methods of managing those challenges are very similar."

Front row, left to right - Volodymyr Medintsov, Andrii Bilyk, Igor Gramotkin, Volodymyr Beznoshchenko and Volodymyr Gavrysh
Back row, left to right - Sandy McWhirter, International Marketing Manager, Randall Bargelt, NDA Senior Site Programme Manager/Deputy Director and Simon Middlemas, Dounreay Director.


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