Clean-up progress at Dounreay

30 May 2016

The Environmental Closure & Demolition (ECD) team at the UK's former fast reactor site at Dounreay are embarking on the characterisation, remediation and restoration of Zone H2 to trial the processes necessary to deliver the Interim End State, Dounreay said on 25 May. Part of Zone H2, situated at the eastern end of the site where the now-demolished plutonium labs once stood, will be used to trial the characterisation process, focusing on residual ground and infrastructure contamination from historical areas of concern. The team has produced a desk study which picks out "areas of potential concern" for investigation, and has also identified unexpected features that need further investigation.

The characterisation work will indicate the presence or absence of contamination, using various techniques which include soil and water sampling.

The project team are working together with the Fuels Directorate and the Waste Directorate, developing co-operation between the teams and disciplines.

The project will develop preferred methods of investigation and remediation techniques, and will be used as a template for costs, timings and the process to be applied as areas of site are released to ECD over the coming years.

Meanwhile the prototype fast reactor (PFR) decommissioning team at Dounreay are continuing to make cost-effective use of general household items to solve decommissioning problems. The team needed to take samples of metal from holes drilled at the base of the PFR reactor. During the planning phase the in-house design team were tasked with manufacturing equipment capable of doing this in a radiological and hazardous environment. The found a simple solution rather than a new design and build project. They attached some BLU-TACK to the end of a long flexible rod, which meandered nearly 10 metres deep into the reactor core and picked up samples of the metal which stuck to the BLU-TACK.

Calder Bain, a member of the PFR design team, said: "There is a continual requirement for inventive methods to dismantle a complex nuclear reactor."

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