The cleanup of the first fuel pond at Dounreay, the UK's former fast reactor research and development centre, has been completed.
|They really cleaned up: workers in pristine fuel pond
The project took 18 months to complete, and was managed by Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL). Industry players DSRL, Doosan Babcock, NDSL and Nuvia were represented in the 14-strong team who completed the work on behalf of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA).
The pond was used between 1964 and 2001 to store fuel elements from materials test reactors from around the world. Before cleanup work could begin in earnest, the team emptied the pond of the fuel storage racks and other equipment. Then, the remaining water was filtered and drained. Once empty, the stainless steel liner in the pond could be partially decontaminated, then cut out using hand held cutting equipment. Contamination had penetrated the concrete and steelwork surrounding the pond liner. These parts of the structure were removed using hand tools. Finally, the pond was subject to 100% radiological surveying.
The inner pond surface has now been painted with masonry paint to seal it. An engineered steel cover over the opening will provide access for further decommissioning works in the facility.
Site director Simon Middlemas described the work as a great achievement. "This small team of workers have completed an arduous task to time and within the budget, and with an excellent safety record," he said.
The Dounreay site was the home to two fast reactors plus a materials test reactor, and associated fuel cycle facilities. About 50 of the approximately 180 facilities that are being dismantled at the site have a history involving the presence of radioactive materials. DSRL's current lifetime plan for the site foresees decommissioning work - to the stage where all redundant facilities have been demolished and waste made safe for long-term storage or disposal - being completed by 2025.