Nuclear Fuel Returned To Germany
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REMOVAL OF NUCLEAR FUEL IS 'CLEAREST POSSIBLE EVIDENCE' OF DECOMMISSIONING
German-owned nuclear fuel has been returned from Dounreay to its owners as part of the ongoing decommissioning of the site.
UKAEA today confirmed it has completed the transfer of 82 sub-assemblies belonging to the German company RSNR. The unirradiated fuel elements, containing approximately 4.2 tonnes of nuclear material, were returned to Germany in a series of movements that finished today.
The fast reactor fuel had been stored at Dounreay since 1992 and its return to its owners is a clear sign of UKAEA's commitment to decommission Dounreay.
Site director Peter Welsh said: 'I'm pleased to be able to report that the movements took place safely and securely and, as a result, there is now less nuclear material on our site. We were assisted in doing this by a number of organisations, not least UKAEA Constabulary, Northern Constabulary and Scrabster Harbour Trust in this country and their counterparts in Germany, to whom we are grateful for their co-operation.'
He added: 'We cannot decommission Dounreay completely unless we remove the nuclear materials held at the site. We started this process earlier this year with the removal of other German-owned material and I expect it to continue for some time to come as we make progress on reducing our inventory and restoring the environment of the site.'
'The transportation of materials out of Dounreay is the clearest possible evidence that we are now fully engaged in decommissioning the site.'
Dounreay was the centre of UK fast reactor research and development from 1958 until the closure of the Prototype Fast Reactor in 1994. The 82 sub-assemblies were designed for use in the multi-national SNR-300 fast reactor in Germany but following the cancellation of this project the unused fuel was transferred to Dounreay between December 1991 and March 1992. UKAEA wanted to use the fuel to power an extension of the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay beyond 1994. However, the reactor closed in 1994 as scheduled and the SNR-300 fuel had remained in safe storage at Dounreay since then. Under Government security regulations, UKAEA may issue a statement about a movement of nuclear material only when it has been completed. A briefing note on the transport of nuclear materials and their security can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk/dounreay/brief4.htm
More information about the tasks needed to decommission Dounreay can be found in the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan published by UKAEA in October 2000. It can downloaded at www.ukaea.org.uk/dounreay/index.htm
Earlier Dounreay Reports On Caithness.org