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Site director Norman Harrison said the timescale for complete decommissioning has been brought forward to 2047 reducing the timescale considerably from what was thought to be a possible 60 year programme. New technology and methods are driving the timescale downwards. 2060 had been the year set in 2000 following the 1998 strategy. This reduction in the time brings in massive reductions in costs. In the short term over the next two years there will be more contracts available and an increase in the over spend by UKAEA. Local Caithness firms and others in the highlands and elsewhere are likely to b in the bidding for these.
He also announced a new management structure designed to sharpen the focus on delivering the site restoration plan on an even earlier timescale.
Details of the accelerated work programme are contained in a Near Term Work Plan submitted by UKAEA to the Liabilities Management Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry and its successor body, the proposed Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The plan details the programme of work worth £313 million to decommission the site over the next two years.
Launching a summary of the plan, Norman Harrison said: "Nobody in western Europe has more experience of managing the safe decommissioning of nuclear sites than UKAEA. This is underlined by the commitments we have made to the Government to accelerate the decommissioning of Dounreay in a way that continues to be safe, secure and environmentally responsible that I am announcing today.
'The job we have started at Dounreay has generated new business opportunities for companies in Caithness and Sutherland to become expert in the skills in decommissioning and has attracted some of the world's largest engineering, environmental and project management companies to this area.
With their help, we can eliminate more of the hazards left over from Dounreay's operational days, we can do it quicker and we can do it more cost-effectively without jeopardising over our-riding priorities of safety, security and environmental protection. This is good news for the taxpayer, it is good news for the environment and it is good news for local contractors.'
Subject to the relevant regulatory consents where appropriate, the plan includes:
Delivery of these and other important tasks in the Near Term Work Plan will be led by a new management team designed to sharpen focus on acceleration of the site restoration plan. A new structure is being put in place and subject to regulatory consent announcements about key appointments will be made in the near future.
Dounreay was Britain's centre of fast reactor research and development from 1955 until 1994. Three nuclear reactors, fuel reprocessing and other associated nuclear facilities were built and operated on a 140-acre. The site is now being decommissioned at an estimated total cost in the region of £4 billion. The decommissioning programme is prioritised towards reducing and eliminating the greatest hazards first.
UKAEA are now aiming to have the waste shaft fully dealt with by 2021 with costs of up to £87million plus waste management costs of around £40 - £50 million over 5 years.
UKAEA are making a planning application to Highland Council to store up to 10,000 cubic metres of waste on the site in a new storage unit. This is the equivalent of approximately 77 double decker buses. Special containers will be used designed for the long term storage of the waste from the shaft. but before any work begins to remove the waste the shaft will be sealed off several metres away on all side and underneath by a specially designed jacket. A specially made cement will be produced to fill the tiny fissures in the surrounding rock to prevent any water entering or leaving the shaft before work begins.
The summary of the Near Term Work Plan for Dounreay can be found at www.ukaea.org.uk/reports/sites.htm
Under Government proposals, a new organisation known as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will become responsible for the strategic direction and funding of the decommissioning of UKAEA and BNFL sites from 1 April 2005. The Liabilities Management Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry is preparing the ground for this new body. Initially, UKAEA and BNFL will be contracted by the NDA to manage the decommissioning of their respective sites.
Decommissioning Dounreay is worth approximately £80 million a year to the economy of the Highlands in general and Caithness and north Sutherland in particular through nett salaries, pensions, contracts and sub-contracts. One in five jobs in Caithness and north Sutherland depend on decommissioning. Across Scotland, it accounts for 2,930 jobs.
Public participation in the options
for disposal of radioactive solvents and oils at Dounreay was a pilot
project for consultation in waste management decisions at the site. A
total of 18 written responses were