Lithuanian Visit To Dounreay
12 December 2001

Local News & Scottish News News Index


New standards being set at Dounreay in the management of radioactive waste are attracting interest from eastern Europe.   A delegation from Lithuania spent three days at Dounreay studying the way the plant handles solid low-level waste (LLW) from its decommissioning programme as the country gears up for the shutdown of its only nuclear power plant.

The main focus of their visit was a new plant at Dounreay that uses state-of-the-art technology to assay and characterise drums containing LLW before they are crushed to a fifth of their size in a supercompactor.  Known as WRACS (pronounced RAX), the 6 million facility has processed more than 3000 drums since it opened at the end of July.

Mr Vladimir Penkov, head of spent fuel and radioactive waste at the Ignalina nuclear power plant in eastern Lithuania, said it was important they gained experience of modern techniques being used in other countries as they prepared for the closure of the first of their two reactors in 2005.

 Michael Dunnett (Facility Manager, UKAEA), Mirina Balan (project
leader), Vladimir Penkov (Head of Group for Spent Nuclear Fuel and Radwaste
Management) and George Sinclair (Waste Operations Manager - UKAEA).

"The detailed information we have obtained from our visit to Dounreay will be extremely important to us in developing our waste management strategy,"  he said.

Tony Wratten, head of waste management at Dounreay, said: "Decommissioning any nuclear facility generates significantly more LLW than other type of waste. The performance of WRACS since it opened has exceeded our expectations and set new standards in the management of low-level radioactive waste.

"The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan is the most detailed plan ever produced for the decommissioning of a nuclear site anywhere in the world and we are happy to share our experience in areas such as LLW with other operators who face similar challenges in decommissioning.

"Historically, Dounreay's research and development work was the focus of interest from around the world and developing new plants such as WRACS means we can continue to be the focus of international attention in decommissioning and environmental restoration."

WRACS, the Waste Receipt Assay Characterisation and Supercompaction facility, came into service at the end of July 2001. Details can be found at

The state-owned Ignalina nuclear power plant consists of two RBMK-type reactors which are being phased out with international financial assistance. More information about Ignalina can be found at

The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan was published by UKAEA in October 2000 and identifies some 1500 tasks required to decommission the site. It can be viewed at

Earlier Dounreay Reports On
Nuclear Fuel Returned To Germany
Beach Monitoring Programme Report
UKAEA Condemn Speculation Regarding Security
Dounreay's  New Waste Treatment Plant -6 million
Boosting Salmon Flow At Loch Shurrery
Dounreay Decommissioning Update