Workers at the Dounreay nuclear power site in Scotland, which is undergoing decommissioning, have just completed the removal of one of hundreds of concrete blocks from one of two pits that were used to shield against radiation in the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR).

The DFR is housed inside the dome at Dounreay, near Thurso in Caithness, and is being dismantled as part of decommissioning work. The 6-metre deep pits once functioned as used fuel pools. The first of a total of about 360 concrete blocks has been cut out and packaged for storage as waste. There are about 180 concrete blocks in each pond to be removed.

Project manager Suzanne Griffiths said: "Decommissioning of the ponds is technically challenging. While each block is only around one metre square, it is extremely heavy and the process of cutting it is complex. The team has worked exceptionally well together and applied lateral thinking, deploying new techniques to allow the concrete liner to be removed in preparation for final demolition." The metal Dome structure over the DFR will also eventually be demolished.