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28 December 04
UKAEA has instructed its contractor, RWE Nukem, to resume monitoring of Sandside Beach for radioactive particles.  It follows notification from the land-owner that agreement to access the beach, which was terminated by the land-owner with effect from April 30, 2004, has been reinstated.  Vehicular monitoring resumed from Thursday, 23 December 2004 in accordance with criteria laid down by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Stan Fraser, the popular foreman in D2001, retired from UKAEA at the end of November. Stan, a native of Wick and a joiner to trade, had two stints at Dounreay, firstly in 1969 when he joined UKAEA Constabulary from the RAF. Four years later he returned to his original trade, rejoining UKAEA in 1981. He was posted to D2001 and remained there until he retired. At a presentation ceremony, Dick Stewart, head of process plants decommissioning, spoke warmly of Stan’s commitment and energy, and the support he always gave to his staff.

Wick High School Pupils Get First Hand View Of Dounreay
17 senior Wick High School pupils studying National Certificate modules in electronics and 2 teachers recently made a visit to Dounreay to give them an insight into how electronics is dealt with in the real world. The group were advised that decommissioning a site such as Dounreay is not just simply demolishing buildings, lots of highly technical installation and maintenance is still required. The group were welcomed to site by Norman Harrison, Dounreay Director followed by a tour of the site and tours of the instrument workshop, which allowed them to see actual electronic equipment on the bench for maintenance and repair, and WRACS (Waste Receipt Assay Characterisation and Supercompaction facility) which allowed them to connect electronics to a real process.

D1112, a former workshop and part of the DFR complex, was recently demolished.  Tucked into the bottom half of the world famous sphere, and built with steel and brick, it has one interesting feature, according to project supervisor, Donald Macaskill “It was butted directly on to the sphere, with one of its gables formed from the outer steel casing.  A steel flashing, welded to this casing, made the building watertight.”  A number of contractors were involved in the whole operation and included the removal of nitrogen pipework and the removal of NaK wetted pipework.  Final demolition was carried out by John Gunn and Son, Lybster.

UKAEA Student Takes Best Building Student Award
Mark Aitken, UKAEA reactor decommissioning, was recently awarded the 'Robert English' award for the best student on the Chartered Institute of Building, Direct Membership Course 2004, at Inverness College UHI. This is the second year in succession a member of reactor decommissioning has lifted this award. In 2003, the winner was Ken Tyrrell.

Dounreay Takes A Look At Multiple Sclerosis
Recently, Linda Olverman, an M.S. specialist nurse, visited site, and gave a presentation titled, Overview of Multiple Sclerosis and Implications for the Workplace.  So what is this degenerating disease, how does it affect people, and how do they cope?   Ian Baddeley a MS sufferer who works at the Dounreay site describes how he copes whilst continuing to work.

17 June 04
UKAEA Police Now In New Building
Officers and staff of UKAEA Constabulary (UKAEAC), recently moved into a new police headquarters on site, officially titled the Police Command Control Building, having previously operated from a number of centres. The centralising of their functions makes sense to Chief Inspector Martin O’Kane: “Whilst I would claim the unit was a very efficient one in the past, the bringing together of all staff and all the operational requirements under one roof, greatly adds to that efficiency and good management.”

UKAEA’s 1000th engineering apprentice at Dounreay was introduced to First Minister Jack McConnell today and told him: “The skills I’m learning can become Scotland’s newest export to the world.”  Gary Davidson (18) from Wick was speaking at the annual UKAEA apprentice-giving ceremony at the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, where the First Minister was the guest of honour. He visited Dounreay afterwards to see Scotland’s largest nuclear decommissioning project.

25 October 04
TRAIL-BLAZER  - Looking Back To The first Apprentice At Dounreay
This year marks an important milestone in the history of UKAEA craft apprenticeship scheme at Dounreay; it appoints its 1000th apprentice. The identity of this person will be revealed at the annual apprenticeship and trainee certificate presentation awards, to be held insert as appropriate. This person will carry that honour as a badge of pride, and a symbol of a scheme, started in 1955, that gave young people from Caithness and Sutherland, and eventually from further afield, a first-class training in their chosen engineering career. Ten of the first eleven entrants were from Caithness, with Jim Macdonald from Sutherland, completing the number.

18 October 04
UKAEA Awards £3 Million Reactor Clean-up Contract
The UK Atomic Energy Authority has awarded a contract to ALSTEC Ltd for the construction of a new plant to clean up radioactive effluent that will arise during the next phase of decommissioning the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay.  The effluent will be produced during cleaning of components and facilities that are coated with sodium liquid metal which was used as a reactor coolant. Already more than 500 of the 1500 tonnes of this metal has been destroyed in a £17 million plant built on site. The subsequent cleaning of residual sodium from components will generate effluent containing radioactive caesium-137 and cobalt-60 and this must be cleaned up before it can be discharged safely to sea.  The contract is valued in the region of £3 million.

15 October 04
UKAEA is inviting members of the public to participate in the choice of the Best Practicable Environmental Option for conditioning liquid wastes that are a legacy of reprocessing fast reactor fuel at Dounreay.  Fuel irradiated in the UK’s Prototype Fast Reactor was reprocessed at Dounreay until 1996 to separate the waste, or fission products, from the re-usable plutonium and uranium. The waste was extracted in the form of an acidic liquor, or raffinate, and approximately 200 m3 is stored safely and securely on the site today.

11 October 04
UKAEA today announced substantial reductions in the forecast timescale and cost of decommissioning its former experimental reactor establishment at Dounreay.  Completion of the programme has been accelerated to 2036 and the undiscounted cost reduced from £3.695 billion to £2.695 billion.  Across the UK, the UKAEA today is announcing it has cut the estimated cost of the clean-up of all its nuclear sites by almost a third. The revised forecasts are contained in long-range plans submitted to the Government and regulators in preparation for the launch next April of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

9 October 04

Hydraulic isolation of the waste shaft at Dounreay is to be carried out by Scottish-based Ritchies, the specialist geotechnical division of Edmund Nuttall Ltd.  Ritchies will insert a 10m-wide curtain of grout in the rock around the shaft to stop groundwater flowing into the column of waste. This will involve drilling between 350 and 400 boreholes in an oval-shaped ring around the shaft and injecting grout into the fissures in the rock.

5 October 04
Decommissioning engineers have looked inside Scotland’s first nuclear reactor for the first time since it was built almost half a century ago.  A remotely-operated video camera and radiation measurement probe was inserted inside the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor to explore its condition.

29 September 04
The UK Atomic Energy Authority today announced plans to begin decommissioning the waste shaft at Dounreay four years earlier than previously planned.  Following a period of public consultation, UKAEA Dounreay has chosen grout as its preferred method of isolating the 65-metre deep facility from the surrounding groundwater.  Subject to regulatory approvals, a 10 metre-wide band of rock around the shaft will be sealed by injecting grout into the fissures to form a deep containment barrier that stops groundwater flowing into the shaft and becoming contaminated with radioactivity.

14 September 04
Scientist's Nephew Sees Round Dounreay
New Zealander Tony Hurst today (14 September 2004) made a nostalgic visit to the former experimental reactor establishment where his uncle led the world in fast reactor technology.  The late Dr Robert Hurst was the first director of Dounreay from 1958 until 1963 when the site’s landmark fast reactor became the first in the world to supply electricity to a national grid.  His nephew, Dr Tony Hurst, is touring the UK with his wife Margaret and decided to seek out the site of his uncle’s pioneering work.  The couple called in yesterday at the visitor centre at Dounreay that tells the story of the world-leading research carried out there from the 1950s, and how the project is now being dismantled.

13 September 04
Accelerated Decommissioning
Keeps The Contracts Flowing
The formal signing of the contract to build a waste-handling facility for storing solid intermediate-level radioactive waste (ILW) at Dounreay recently awarded to Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd by UKAEA, took place in the board-room of Forss Business Park.  The contract, valued in excess of £10 million will increase the site's capacity for storing ILW arising from the site's accelerated decommissioning programme.

11 August 04

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has applied for planning permission to build a plant to manage the removal of the last of the breeder fuel still inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR).  Plans submitted to the Highland Council seek consent for the construction of a facility to clean and package the fuel after it has been removed from the landmark experimental reactor.  If permission is granted, the new facility is expected to take two years to build and create 55 jobs during its construction.  DFR operated from 1958 until 1977.  In the early 1980s, nearly all the fuel was removed from the reactor and about a third of the uranium breeder blanket that surrounded the core was also taken out.

6 August 04
UKAEA Board Annual Visit To Caithness
The present board members recently made their annual visit to Caithness and met local community members at the Park hotel.  the board members visited various parts of the Dounreay site and the Forss Business Park

5 August 04
Two Caithness firms have been awarded separate contracts to improve the infrastructure of the site, each worth in the region of £100,000.  M. M. Miller, Wick, will replace and upgrade a sewer-line in the central area of site to meet increased demand from new buildings. It will replace an existing line built in the late fifties. The work is due for completion by the end of November.
John Gunn & Son, Lybster, will carry out minor upgrading and general maintenance of the site’s five and half miles of road. This includes changes to the roundabout at the entrance to the licensed site. The work is to be carried out during August and September, much of it during silent hours.

19 July 04
On the 50th Anniversary of UKAEA Dipesh Shah the Chief Executive Dipesh Shah mulls over the achievements of the past 50 years.  Today the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority celebrates its 50th Anniversary.  On 19 July 1954 UKAEA came into being as the body responsible for taking forward the atomic energy research programme from the Ministry of Supply.  Over the following years UKAEA pioneered the development of an entire industry and went on to spearhead many other scientific and technological advances.  Today, its pioneering role continues in its equally challenging tasks of nuclear site restoration and leading the UK's contribution to the international fusion programme.

30 June 04
Statement on the radioactive particles found in the local coastal environment resulting from operations at the UKAEA site at Dounreay
The latest statement from COMARE gives details of further recommendations on monitoring for particles both on beaches and offshore. These recommendations were formulated following the publication of the second report of the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group (DPAG), the continuing appraisal of the particles being found on the Sandside Bay beach where public access is unrestricted and ongoing research.............The Committee also recognises that preliminary results from the ongoing studies to identify the health risks from the particles show that radiation doses may be less than those originally estimated in COMARE’s Sixth report.

15 June 04
Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) and Highland and Islands Enterprise's (HIE) aim of creating a decommissioning centre of excellence in the far north reached another milestone today with the first ground works starting at the Janetstown site. The £7 million industrial and office development is being constructed by HIE with funding from the organisation totalling around £3 million, with a further £2.4 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  Caithness firm, JGC Engineering is set to lease the property from HIE and CASE, which will house the Trials, Training and Test Facility (TTTF) and the UHI Millennium Institute and North Highland College's Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Centre (DERC).

10 June 04

UKAEA  Dounreay  today  launches the consultation phase about its change in reference  strategy  for  conditioning  liquid  wastes that are a legacy of reprocessing fast reactor fuel at Dounreay.  A  newsletter  being  issued  to  over  800  organisations  and individuals explains  the  background to the issue and sets out the process for seeking their views.  Fuel  irradiated  in  the  UK’s  Prototype  Fast Reactor was reprocessed at Dounreay  until  1996  to separate the waste, or fission products, from the re-usable  plutonium and uranium. The waste was extracted in the form of an acidic  liquor,  or  raffinate,  and  approximately  200m3  accumulated  in underground  tanks,  where  it  continues  to be stored safely and securely today.

7 June 04
Mount Pleasant School Visit To Dounreay Visitor Centre
Primary 1 from Mount Pleasant Primary School visited on Monday 7 June 2004 Dounreay's Visitor Centre for their school outing.  During their visit they seen a great display from Chaz the police dog, had rides in the fire engine and ambulance and played with the water hoses. A great time was had by all, including the adults.  The children are pictured here with staff from Dounreay's fire brigade, ambulance service and constabulary, teaching staff and Marie Mackay from Dounreay Communications Department. 

Canisabay & Crossroads Essay Winners Visit Dounreay
Once again this year, UKAEA Dounreay sponsored the children’s essay competitions as part of the Science 03 Festival held in Caithness in March.  The prize-winners in the primary section were Canisbay Primary School and Crossroads Primary School primaries 6 and 7.

Catherine Stihler - Euro MP Visits Dounreay
Euro-MP Catherine Stihler visited Dounreay on May 11 to see the progress being made to dismantle and clean up the former experimental reactor establishment.  Mrs Stihler toured the site with UKAEA environmental programmes manager Mark Liddiard before visiting the decommissioning trials and test facility at Janetstown near Thurso. There, she was briefed by UKAEA's international collaboration manager Dr Peter Thompson on international being forged with industry and educational establishments in the UK and overseas. She also toured the facility with Paul Hosking, Alstec's lead engineer for the Alkali Metal Residue Recovery alliance at Dounreay.

Retiral News

3 May 04
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt today accepted the resignation of Denis Tunnicliffe CBE as Chair of UKAEA.   Mr Tunnicliffe is resigning his position in order to take up his role as a working peer.  Ms Hewitt said: "Denis has been an excellent Chair of the UKAEA. He has been assiduous in promoting the interests of UKAEA and its employees in the context of the creation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  Under his leadership the UKAEA has made great strides in addressing and accelerating nuclear clean-up and I wish him well in his new role."  Mr Tunnicliffe's successor will be announced in due course.

27 April 04

UKAEA's Pensions Administration Service, based at Thurso, Caithness, could be given the opportunity to further develop as a public service pensions provider following the introduction of a Government amendment to the Energy Bill now before Parliament.  The 30-strong Pensions Office has also received a boost with the decision by the Trustee of the BNFL Group Pension Scheme to award a five-year contract to UKAEA to carry out the administration and payroll of the Scheme. The BNFL Group Pension Scheme covers BNFL and its subsidiary companies and has a membership of 1600 with around 1300 active members.

19 April 04
Scotland's Deputy First Minister visited Dounreay on April 16th and learned how local engineering expertise is being used to help decommission the landmark Dounreay Fast Reactor. Jim Wallace, who is also Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning and MSP for Orkney, toured the famous Dome of Discovery and met Alex and Pat Grant, whose company Norfrost Technologies Ltd has manufactured a device for taking a sample of the crust on the liquid metal coolant.

19 April 04
April Bulletin - Latest From Dounreay

19 April 04
Ex MP Robert Maclennan Visits Dounreay
The Rt Hon Lord Robert Maclennan visited Dounreay this week giving him the opportunity to meet Norman Harrison, Dounreay Director.  This was Robert Maclennan's first visit to Dounreay since he stepped down from parliament in 2001.  During his visit he toured the site to see some of the changes that have been made and had a tour of the Dounreay Cementation Plant..  He is pictured here with Norman Harrison.

2 April 04
Clean-up programme worth £313 million to be driven forward by new management team The  UK  Atomic  Energy  Authority  today  announced it is accelerating the decommissioning   of  the  former  experimental  reactor  establishment  at Dounreay.  Site   director   Norman   Harrison   said   the   timescale  for  complete decommissioning has been brought forward to 2047.

30 March 04
On Tuesday 29 March 2004 another man working for a sub-contractor in the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay, was admitted to hospital with probable meningitis, though the type has yet to be confirmed.   Dr Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Highland said “On the basis that there is a strong possibility that this is a further case of meningococcal meningitis it has been decided to extend the offer of antibiotics to include all those who work on a regular basis in the Prototype Fast Reactor. Further advice and an update on the situation was given to all members of the workforce at Dounreay On Wednesday 30 March.”

The last batch of nuclear fuel to be manufactured at Dounreay was completed today, signalling the end of an era in the supply of fabricated uranium elements to research reactors around the world.  Known as D1202, the site's fuel fabrication plant was the first "active" facility to commence operation at Dounreay in January 1957. Tomorrow, work will start to clean out and decommission the plant.  The plant manufactured some 10,000 fuel elements using a series of precision mechanical processes to turn billets of uranium metal and aluminium into fuel elements of the highest quality. The elements were used to fuel research reactors in Britain and abroad that tested how different materials perform when exposed to radiation. They also produced isotopes for industrial and medical uses.

25 February 04
PFR Sodium Tanks Reach End Of Their Working Life
With the ease of a child, breaking off pieces of chocolate from a hollow easter egg, the oxy-acetylene cutter cuts up one of the giant PFR sodium tanks into manageable pieces.  There are ten of these tanks, each with a capacity of 143 tonnes fixed to plinths on the horizontal, within the sodium tank-farm.


Iain Todd, Director of Oil and Gas Industry Development at the Department of Trade and Industry, visited UKAEA Dounreay where he met senior staff to discuss how the decommissioning skills being developed at Dounreay could be used to support other sectors.  Accompanied by Carol Gunn of the HIE decommissioning task force, Mr Todd was keen to learn how the skills and experience could be used to support the Government's long-term renewable energy policies and how the skills being developed by local firms could, in tandem with larger multi-national companies, bring additional benefits to the area.

 22 January 04
Higher standards of environmental protection and lower levels of radioactive emissions mean the clean-up of Dounreay is being carried out with minimal impact on the environment.  So said Dipesh Shah, chief executive of UKAEA, when he officially opened a £7.5 million plant that is setting new standards for the control and disposal of low-level effluent from the decommissioning of Britain's fast reactor experiment. 
The Low Level Liquid Effluent Treatment Plant, which took three years to build, is an important part of UKAEA's strategy to clean up effluent from the site decommissioning before disposal. It replaces a facility dating from the 1950s that is now being phased out of service.

20 January 04

One of the most important collections in the history of nuclear energy has been preserved for future generations after a £400,000 investment in a new archive facility at Dounreay. 
The archive is home to some 10 million pages of paper records contained in 21,000 boxes that would stretch for three kilometres if laid end to end.  The records chart the history of Dounreay from its earliest construction through the pioneering days of research and development of Britain's fast reactor experiment to the modern-day decommissioning of the site.

2003 Archive News
2002 Archive News
Dounreay Particles Advisory Group

Site Today

Site At Completion Of Decommissioning

Nuclear Industry News and Links

Atomic Links On Caithness.org

Dounreay Past Present And Future 26 December 2002
The importance of Dounreay to the county - its people and economy is now extremely important.  But it is the prospects of the work on decommissioning that holds the key to the future prosperity of not just Caithness but the wider area of the north of Scotland and beyond.  The increasing magnitude of the undertaking is beginning to be realised by the whole country as very large contracts are being awarded.  To reflect the importance to the area Caithness.org has been granted access to some historical photographs from the UKAEA archives for publication in a new section.    The historical pictures have been set up in a gallery of their own and others will be added if they become available.