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Dounreay Archive News Index 2005

12 December 05
Dounreay Seeks Way Forward On The Particles
The largest consultation exercise ever undertaken by Dounreay’s operator was announced today to identify the Best Practicable Environmental Option for radioactive particles found in the seabed and beaches near the former experimental reactor establishment. A newsletter is being issued today to more than a thousand registered stakeholders, outlining the results of a £10 million research programme and inviting members of the public to participate in a preliminary phase of engagement.
Bill Fernie Chairman Of The Public Consultation Steering Group Wants To Hear All Opinions
UKAEA has commissioned consultants Entec UK to facilitate the preliminary phase of public engagement and the transparency of the process is being overseen by a stakeholder consultation steering group chaired by Councillor Bill Fernie, who represents Wick West on Highland Council. He said: “A considerable amount of work has gone into looking at how we might present information to the public that is clear and open. The Steering Group is looking forward to assisting everyone involved in making the choices that will decide the future of how we deal with the particles in the environment. From early in 2006 we will be working to ensure that anyone who wishes to can contribute their view and I encourage anyone with an interest to participate.”  Other independent members of the steering group include John Thurso MP and Iain Baikie a physicist who runs KP Technology based in Wick.

2 December 05
New Plant Aids PFR Pond Clean-out
The decommissioning of Britain's Prototype Fast Reactor has entered a new stage, with the start-up of a new £500,000 plant for cleaning out a pond where fuel and other radioactive components were stored.  The first active run of the PFR ion exchange plant has been successfully completed, proving the technology that will be used to clean radioactive contamination from the water in the pond and make it safe to discharge to sea.

25 November 05
Serial non-exec wins role at PA - Management Consultancy
Lady Barbara Thomas Judge holds a series of senior positions including non-executive chairmanship of the UK Atomic Energy Authority where she is leading the nuclear decommissioning programme and overseeing the transformation of UKAEA as it prepares to compete with BNFL and other rivals.

24 November 05
Dounreay director Norman Harrison travelled to Brussels at the invitation of the Nuclear Energy Agency's radioactive waste management committee, to discuss stakeholder involvement in decommissioning of nuclear sites. A working party consisted of delegates from Brussels, USA, France, Canada, Italy, Sweden and Germany as well as Scotland.  During the day-long meeting Norman Harrison presented the UKAEA's process for public participation and involvement. He described how, in 2002, UKAEA launched a process of consulting stakeholders on projects where there was a significant potential off-site environmental impact and where more than one feasible option for managing the issue existed.

Members of the Enterprise and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament today visited Dounreay as part of their inquiry into business growth in Scotland. Their fact-finding visit was hosted by Simon Middlemas, deputy director of Dounreay, who was joined by representatives of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, North Highland College UHI and Caithness Contractors Consortium. The MSPs discussed the site clean-up programme and its economic implications, met trade union representatives and saw how the site is being decommissioned.

Tritium Users Group Meeting At Dounreay
Dounreay recently hosted the fifth meeting of the Tritium User Group (TUG), a forum for the exchange of information on topics of common interest to the UK Tritium community.  Representatives from UKAEA Dounreay, UKAEA Windscale, AEA Technology, BNFL Magnox, NPL, Rutherford, AWE Aldermaston, BNFL Sellafield, NNC, GE Healthcare, BNFL Chapelcross, UKAEA (JET), MoD-DPA and RWE attended the meeting.

17 October 05
A laboratory-based trial of different monitoring systems for detecting particles on beaches near Dounreay has been launched at UKAEA’s Harwell site.  Alternative technologies offered by six different companies from the UK and USA are being tested for their sensitivity towards buried point sources on a simulated beach environment over a period of seven weeks in September and October 2005.

17 October 05
New & Existing Low Active Drain Connected
As part of the enabling works required for the shaft isolation project, approximately 150metres of the Dounreay’s low active drain (LAD) adjacent to the shaft had to be diverted. At the end of September the tie-ins operation to connect the old and new LAD were carried out and the system commissioned. The LAD diversion required the creation of a new reinforced concrete duct, some 158 metres long, containing stainless steel pipework and secondary containment.

Over two days approximately 30 UKAEA and contractor staff worked together to complete many of the intricate parts of the project, linking the new to the existing LAD. Due to the nature of the work staff were required to wear airline suits and all operations were carried out within a radiological containment called EREC (Environmental and Radiological Enclosure), which was specially constructed by RWE Nukem using their Moducon system.

13 October 05
Shaft Saga Moves To Long Final Phases With New Methods and Technology

The Dounreay team and contractors Ritchiie's are pusing the boundaries of engineering and scientific knowledge as they apply for planning permission to surround the Shaft where a variety of contaminated materials were originally disposed of.  the technology is well known in the mining industry but is being put to a new use in the current situation. Once the huge jacket consisting of the surrounding rock filled with grouting materials is completed retrieval of the contents of the shaft will begin.  Test bores are underway with core samples near the shaft area giving essential information on the surrounding rock structure.  Eventually the material will be removed by remotely controlled robots and trolleys.  Local people are being employed in all phases of the work by Ritchie's who won the contract.  The platform construction phase will commence in a few months after planning permission is granted.  The initial phase may take up to three years with possibly several years following to deal with the materials from the shaft.

Conference Delegates Visit Dounreay
Dounreay recently played host to delegates from ICEM05 International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management. During their visit, they were given a guided tour of site and WRACS before following on to the facilities at Janetstown. The purpose of their visit was to gain first hand experience of the site remediation and waste management being undertaken at Dounreay. Pictured from left to right - Frank Dennis, Environmental Project Manager and ICEM05 delegates

New Cementation Waste Handling Facility
The construction of the new Dounreay Cementation Plant Waste Handling Facility is continuing to make good progress. Balfour Beatty who are constructing the waste-handling facility valued in excess of £10 million, has constructed the shielded operational area and are now completing the construction of drum transfer corridor. The drum transfer corridor is approximately 20m long x 5m wide x 5m high and has concrete walls and roof 1200mm thick. This is due for completion by end of October 2005.  

28 September 05
UKAEA has notified regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority of an incident that occurred on 26 September 2005 in the Dounreay Cementation Plant, resulting in the shutdown of the facility.  The facility receives batches of dissolved spent fuel, or raffinate, from the historical reprocessing of research reactor fuel. The liquor is treated and solidified with cement in 500-litre drums inside a heavily-shielded suite of cells. Once set, the drums are moved into storage as conditioned intermediate-level waste.

At approximately 0430hrs today, a batch of raffinate and a quantity of cement escaped onto the floor of the shielded cell. It was detected promptly and the facility shut down immediately. Initial results from radiation monitoring systems within the plant confirmed the liquor has been contained inside the cell, in accordance with its design function, ensuring there was no harm to staff or the environment.

UKAEA has informed the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. UKAEA has convened an investigation into the circumstances and the work required to restart the plant.
About the Cementation Plant

25 September 05
On Friday 23 September 2005, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) served an enforcement notice on UKAEA Dounreay after it breached conditions in its authorisation to discharge gaseous radioactive waste.  A team of inspectors from SEPA carried out a week long audit of the site in June and found 28 problems.
Order served over waste rule breach - The Scotsman

16 September 05
The latest group of young people from Caithness to be trained at Dounreay today received their indentures of apprenticeship and certificates of training.  The awards, covering apprenticeships in engineering and technician disciplines, scientific training and secretarial skills, were presented at a ceremony in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso.  A total of 13 young people completed the training programmes. Twelve have now found employment with contractors at Dounreay.

17 September 05
UKAEA has notified regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority of an incident that occurred today in the Dounreay Cementation Plant, resulting in the shutdown of the facility. The facility receives batches of dissolved spent fuel, or raffinate, from the historical reprocessing of research reactor fuel. The liquor is treated and solidified with cement in 500-litre drums inside a heavily-shielded suite of cells. Once set, the drums are moved into storage as conditioned intermediate-level waste. At approximately 0430hrs today, a batch of raffinate and a quantity of cement escaped onto the floor of the shielded cell. It was detected promptly and the facility shut down immediately. Initial results from radiation monitoring systems within the plant confirmed the liquor has been contained inside the cell, in accordance with its design function, ensuring there was no harm to staff or the environment. UKAEA has informed the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. UKAEA has convened an investigation into the circumstances and the work required to restart the plant.

15 September 05
UKAEA, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has awarded a contract to Jacobs Babtie as prime consultants for the next stage of the proposed new low level waste disposal facility at Dounreay.  The contract involves working with UKAEA and stakeholders to prepare the planning application which will be submitted to the Highland Council, applications that will be required by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and documents that may be required to comply with the terms of a nuclear site licence. Jacobs Babtie will be assisted in producing these comprehensive documents by Galson Sciences Ltd.

8 September 05
UKAEA has exported the last batch of nuclear fuel elements ever to be manufactured at Dounreay.  Eight elements have been delivered safely to SCK of Belgium, bringing to an end the supply of nuclear fuel elements made in Caithness to research reactors around the world.
Approximately 10,000 uranium elements were manufactured at Dounreay between January 1957 and March 2004.
The elements powered research reactors in the UK and abroad that tested how different materials performed when exposed to radiation. They also produced isotopes for industrial and medical uses.  Many of these reactors, including the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor, have now closed and UKAEA ceased fuel manufacturing at Dounreay last year. The fuel fabrication plant, known as D1202, is now being cleaned out on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and is scheduled for earlydemolition in 2007.  The safe delivery to SCK of eight elements for its BR-2 reactor at Mol means that all the fuel manufactured in D1202 has now been removed from the site.

17 August 05
Dounreay’s latest investigation into offshore particles will see an improved Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) put to test off the North coast where a comparison will be made of its detection efficiency compared to divers, the use of which is being phased out on safety grounds.  The ROV, nicknamed “Trol”, is operated for UKAEA by Wick- based firm Fathoms Limited which has been awarded a two year contract. It is about the size of large washing machine, moves over the seabed at a speed of just under one mile per hour, and carries an ultrasound positioning system, two video cameras and a large sodium iodide gamma ray detector which can detect radioactive particles buried down to about 50 cm in depth.

2 August 05
Andrew Jackson has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and a member of the Board. Mr Jackson joins from Alfred McAlpine plc where he is a senior financial executive. He succeeds Paul White who is retiring from UKAEA. Andrew will take up his post on 1 September 2005.

Caithness Glassblower Heads For USA Symposium
Chicago, where reputedly the wind constantly blows, should prepare to batten down the hatches at the end of this month; it has been chosen as the venue for this years Symposium of the American Scientific Glassblowers Society!

Ian Pearson, scientific glassblower with UKAEA at Dounreay, has been invited to attend and present a paper at the event, which will be attended by some 200 fellow professionals from all over the world. Ian, who is chairman of the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers, said it was an honour for both him, and his employer, to receive this invitation. “It will be an opportunity for me to experience the many different aspects of working with glass, which in these times might be reducing in the amount used, but the requirements are becoming more specialised,” said Ian.

27 May 05
UKAEA today set out its plans to make safe for future generations one of the most hazardous legacies of the fast reactor experiment at Dounreay.  Following public participation in the options, UKAEA has confirmed its intention to solidify liquid waste from the reprocessing of fast reactor fuel using cement instead of glass. Almost half the radioactive waste hazard at Dounreay is concentrated in this liquor and its conversion to a form suitable for long-term storage or disposal as solid intermediate-level waste is one of the highest priorities of the site restoration plan. The waste will be transferred from underground storage tanks to a new plant where it will be mixed with cement and set inside 500-litre drums that can be stored safely above-ground pending a national policy for the long-term management of intermediate-level waste.

23 May 05
UKAEA as a whole and the UKAEA Dounreay site have both been awarded the prestigious Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold Medal for best practice in health and safety for five years running. This is the second year that both have received this coveted award, reflecting the importance placed on continually improving safety practices across UKAEA.

12 May 05
Dounreay Ups Safety In Case Of Earthquake

DFR Seismic Modification Milestone

During the construction of the renowned Dounreay dome back in the 1950's, there was no requirement to make the giant sphere capable of withstanding an earthquake. But fifty years later, this unusual necessity has earned the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) facility its first key milestone under the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  Modern standards for nuclear establishments now require ‘quake-proofing’ for all new and existing safety-related equipment and plant. This is tricky for facilities such as the DFR Nak Disposal Plant, which is a mixture of both old and new plant and is also contained inside the DFR sphere. The sphere itself has been computer modelled and proven to withstand the once-in-ten-thousand years chance of an earthquake. However, the plant contained within it needed a more detailed assessment.

11 May 05
Royal seat of approval awarded to George
When George Linekar retired from Dounreay at the end of April his colleagues presented him with a chair, or more correctly, a very special chair! In the late fifties, the late Queen Mother visited the site, and to ensure she had her customary post-lunch nap a club-style loungue chair was specially acquired.  Since then it has adorned a number of manager’s offices. Having looked after the chair for the last number of years, it was felt that both George and chair should remain together in retirement.  George, a metallurgist, commenced at Dounreay in 1965, and since then has held a number of senior posts on site.

11 May 05
UKAEA is proposing to build additional storage space at Dounreay for solid low-level radioactive waste pending the availability of a new disposal facility at the site.  Extensive consultation carried out by UKAEA recently identified the construction of a new disposal facility at Dounreay as the Best Practicable Environmental Option for managing low-level waste from the site clean-up.  With any new disposal facility unlikely to be available until 2011 at the earliest, and current storage space due to reach capacity in 2006, UKAEA is seeking agreement from regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to extend the existing store.

26 April 05
When Pat McVey retired from UKAEA, Dounreay, in mid-April, he brought the curtain down on a remarkable family contribution to UKAEA, an aggregate total of almost one hundred and three years service. Pat served UKAEA for forty-one years, having commenced in 1964, after spending three years in the merchant navy. In October last year, his brother George retired having completed forty-seven years service at Dounreay.  During their early days on site, the brothers were accompanied by their late father Jim, who arrived at Dounreay in 1956 from his native Glasgow, and who retired in 1971.

26 April 05

Report on the beach monitoring in the period up to 22 April 05.

19 April 05
Monitoring Of Beaches Leaflet
UKAEA have issued a leaflet for the public regarding monitoring on Beaches in respect of particles.

19 April 05
Following a strategic review, undertaken jointly with government, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has received the go-ahead from Government for its plans to develop a vibrant British company to compete for nuclear and non-nuclear business in the UK and overseas.  Welcoming the decision, Chief Executive, Dipesh Shah, said, "I am delighted that we have received the Government's blessing for our plans to go for growth and income. We can now press ahead with renewed confidence with our business ambitions to grow beyond our existing UK sites and expand internationally.  "Over the past two years we have made great strides in preparing for the introduction of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

23 March 05
Radio Active Waste Plans Unveiled - BBC
The Environment Agency has announced proposals for the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA) Windscale station, which is based at Sellafield
. The consultation period runs from 24 March until 30 June

18 March 05
DUNNET BEACH Update On Contaminated Stone Find
UKAEA has published the results of tests carried out on a contaminated stone discovered during monitoring of the beach at Dunnet on March 2. The tests are inconclusive about the origin of the caesium, but eliminate radioactive deposition from the Chernobyl accident as a source of the contamination. The tests indicate the contamination it is not a particle of the kind found near Dounreay.

18 March 05
UKAEA Will Assist Highland Council To Remove Storm Rubbish At Dunnet
UKAEA has responded to a request for assistance from Highland Council to help repair storm damage and has agreed to provide mechanical assistance to remove large quantities of flotsam and jetsam from the area.

18 March 05
UKAEA MEDIATION Moves To Reach Settlement With Sandside
UKAEA has begun a process of mediation with Magnohard Ltd, owner of the estate at Sandside, with a view to reaching a positive settlement of issues arising from the detection and retrieval of radioactive particles at Sandside beach. UKAEA regrets the occurrence of particles at Sandside and the historical practices that gave rise to their release onto the seabed off Dounreay.

18 March 05
‘NEW’ COURT CASE Against Dounreay Untrue
A number of newspapers this week reported that a new court case has been launched against UKAEA Dounreay as a result of historical waste management practices.  UKAEA understands that these reports stemmed from Media Intelligence Partners Ltd, a London-based lobby firm with strong links to political organisations in the USA. Enquiries by UKAEA have established that no new, fresh proceedings have been brought against UKAEA.

18 March 05
UKAEA Dounreay Beating The Drum As Party Conference Season Gets Into Full Swing
Dundee To Dumfries - Some of Scotland's most senior politicians were briefed on progress with decommissioning Dounreay when they met up with a UKAEA and trade union team from Dounreay at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee recently.  First minister Jack McConnell and other Labour MSP's called at the stand for a few words.  The Dounreay team next headed for the Conservative conference  in Dumfries

17 March 05
Answers to Parliamentary Questions about the steps being taken to address radioactive particles detected and retrieved from the beach at Sandside and their potential health effects have been published. 
The answers by Energy Minister Mike O'Brien reiterate previously-published advice from a committee of independent experts that the chances of a member of the public coming into contact with a radioactive particle on the beach at Sandside Bay continue to be "extremely small".

16 March 05
Angus Ross Conservative Candidate Visit
Angus Ross, Westminster Conservative Party Representative for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross recently visited Dounreay. This was Mr Ross's first visit to Dounreay during which he received a presentation on the decommissioning of Dounreay followed by a tour of the site. He is pictured here outside Dounreay Fast Reactor with his assistant David Peach (left).

Dounreay Local Liaison Committee - The Last Meeting
"A Dounreay Local Liaison Committee is to be formed, with the object of keeping local authorities and others interested in local affairs informed of the progress of the work at Dounreay and the measures being adopted to ensure the safety of the countryside."

14 February 05
Retirements From Dounreay

20 January 05
The UK Atomic Energy Authority has given evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee of MPs to assist its inquiry into aspects of decommissioning the former experimental fast reactor establishment at Dounreay.  The committee is exploring the long-term employment prospects for staff involved in decommissioning the site and the long-term strategy for managing the radioactive wastes that arise from decommissioning. It is also examining future energy sources in Scotland.  In its written submission, UKAEA underlines its commitment to continued close working with organisations such as Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, North Highland College UHI and Highland Council to identify opportunities for sustainable economic development.  In the short-term, this involves working together to maximise the economic benefits to the area from a decommissioning programme which accounts for one in five jobs locally and contributes an estimated £80 million to the local economy annually.

10 January 05
Sodium Disposal World Record For Dounreay
The sodium disposal plant at PFR, built at a cost of £17 million and which became operational in March, 2004, has broken the world record for the safe destruction of liquid metal. The total destroyed to date, 770 tonnes, far exceeds the previous record of 633 tonnes, which was achieved in 2001 by EBR2, a nuclear complex in Idaho, USA. It also means that UKAEA has now safely destroyed half of the hazardous metal left over from the fast reactor programme.

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Dounreay Past Present And Future
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.