Dounreay destroys liquid metal

6 March 2009

The first batches of liquid metal from the coolant system of the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) have been destroyed.

The sodium-potassium alloy (NaK), heavily contaminated with radioactive caesium is one of the largest single hazards on Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites in the UK.

The liquid-metal destruction process restarted 6 March, following a five-month pause for improvements to be made to the ion exchange plant.

Last September, the project team discovered small leaks in the ion exchange drip trays and work was immediately suspended. Following a thorough investigation, which attributed the main cause of the leaks to incompatibility between sealing threads and materials with ageing pipework, a recovery plan was put in place. This involved making modifications to the chemical treatment plants and reconfiguration of the ion exchange cleanup process.

Fast reactors decommissioning unit manager, Mike Brown said: “Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and its contractors have worked tirelessly to prepare for this day, demonstrating forward thinking and commitment to a project which is one of the major decommissioning milestones DFR has to manage.”

Cleanup plants have so far processed fourteen batches of primary NaK.

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