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Dounreay - Past Present Future
DCP AND STORE EXTENSION
On the left through the fence, about half way down the road is a new extension to the store for drums of intermediate-level radioactive waste. This has been turned from a liquid to a solid in the cementation plant beside it. The DCP will hold 4,500 drums of Intermediate Level Waste. This waste is stored in liquid form before it is mixed with cement to solidify it and make the waste suitable for longer-term storage.
The plant cost about £14m and includes state of the art equipment that allows radioactive liquid waste, to be mixed with dry cement. Once mixed the ‘cement’ is allowed to set for twenty-four hours before being sealed up and transferred to a store.
National policy on the long-term management of such waste is under review. In the meantime, the strategy remains that this material will be stored safely on site until such time as it can be removed for disposal in a national repository.
Each drum of waste is made from 6mm thick mild steel, coated in zinc, and is marked with a bar code for identification purposes. It is anticipated that the programme for transferring all this particular type of liquid waste to storage through the Cementation Plant will take between 7 and 10 years.
There is another type of liquid waste from reprocessing that also needs to be solidified. That is high-level liquid waste and studies are examining the best option for this material at the site.
A new Waste Receipt Assay Characterisation and Supercompaction facility - otherwise known as WRACS has been built. The new plant has been built to further improve the site’s management of solid Low Level Waste. This is lightly contaminated material that can range from paper towels to slightly radioactive equipment. Using state of the art technology, waste drums are x-rayed to confirm their contents and subsequently compacted to a fifth of their size in a 2000-tonne press - in essence this means that the drums are squashed. These drums are stored above ground on the site. The disposal facility for this waste at the site is now full and we have been instructed by the regulators to transfer some of these drums to the only other disposal facility in the UK, at Drigg in Cumbria. A lorry a week or a train a month is expected to transport the drums.