The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on 14 December awarded a three-year contract to Cavendish Nuclear and its partners, local firm JGC Engineering, KDC and Frazer-Nash Consultancy, for the demolition of the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR).

The contract is for the dismantling of the reactor block and demolition of the structure. The DMTR was the first nuclear reactor in Scotland, achieving criticality in 1958. It was built to test the effects of radiation on different materials and operated for 11 years.

"The start of the work to demolish Dounreay Materials Test Reactor represents a significant step in our mission to decommission and clean-up the legacy from the very earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry," noted Alan Cumming, the NDA’s director of nuclear operations.  "This is the culmination of a decade-long project to remove the internal structures from the reactor and its support buildings including a fuel storage pond, waste drum store and post-irradiation examination cells."

Cavendish Nuclear and its partners have pledged to source materials and services from local sub-contractors.

JGC Engineering will be supported by local subcontractors Gunn’s of Lybster, Caithness Scaffolding and Hugh Simpson Ltd during the works phase. Frazer-Nash, a subsidiary of Babcock International Group, will augment Cavendish Nuclear’s safety case and engineering capabilities, while KDC will bring experience from decommissioning a similar reactor at Imperial in 2015-17.

Dounreay, one of the UK’s centre for fast reactor research, is now Scotland’s largest decommissioning project. Dounreay Site Restoration Limited is delivering the work on behalf of the NDA.

This agreement is the latest in a number of major contracts to be awarded in the last year as Dounreay’s closure programme progresses. Graham Construction was awarded a three-year deal in October, and will soon begin to build an intermediate-level-waste storage facility on the site. Nuvia also recently won a multi-million-pound contract to remove residual liquid metal coolant from Dounreay Fast Reactor.

Photo: Dounreay Materials Test Reactor  (Credit: DRSL)