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Dounreay - Past Present Future

On the way into the site, where the cars are now parked, is the old runway.  The Dounreay site is built on a former Royal Navy Air Station, which was constructed in 1941.  Its wartime use was as a dummy and diversionary airfield.  Dounreay used the runway up until the early nineties for air moves associated with the site.


The Fuel Cycle Area consists of the chemical plants built to handle the fuel and waste from the fast reactors.   The area also includes the manufacturing plants, processing and reprocessing areas, laboratories and general administration buildings.

Some of these plants are now being decommissioned. Other plants, following modernisation, are now being used to handle the wastes from decommissioning. This was also the area where foreign nuclear material was reprocessed. The Government decided that none of the nuclear material left at Dounreay, including foreign fuel, should be reprocessed and we are now developing a strategy to remove all such material from the site. The final reprocessing run took place in 1996.


AEAT, a tenant and contractor on the site, takes pipes from the North Sea that have become furred up with natural radioactivity, for de-scaling.  The gas recovered far below the sea bed deposits naturally occurring radioactive scale on the side of the pipes which has to be removed before the pipes can be disposed of or renovated. This is an example of how techniques developed at Dounreay have been developed for commercial applications by private companies.  Ultrafiltration techniques developed here have enabled AEA Technology to develop a market for the technology in the public water sector and the new battery factory in Thurso run by AGM is another example of commercial spin-off from state-funded research here.


Early Police Dogs

The UKAEA has its own Constabulary and Constabulary Police dogs. The dogs are used for many activities including patrolling, tracking and searching. The UKAEA Constabulary is the force responsible for guarding UKAEA and BNFL sites in the UK and has special responsibility for the protection of nuclear materials.


UKAEA Dounreay has been accredited with Investors in People status, which requires a proven commitment to the training of staff on the site.  The site has its own dedicated training facility which includes several lecture and symposium rooms.  An apprentice training scheme offers young people opportunities in engineering, scientific and administrative careers.   Over the years, more than 1000 apprentices have been trained at Dounreay and their skills have been used worldwide.


The large ‘bin’ shaped building is the Materials Test Reactor. This was constructed during the mid 1950’s and was the first reactor to be switched on at the site. It was operated as a test reactor for different types of fuels for ten years between 1958 and its closure in 1968. The first stage of decommissioning is complete and it is now in a state of care and maintenance.