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Nuclear submarine facility at Dounreay to be demolished

20 March 2020 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: The decommissioned nuclear power station at Dounreay (Dreamstime/Weetoonpics)

A nuclear submarine testing facility adjacent to the Dounreay nuclear power complex in Scotland is to be demolished after the Ministry of Defence invited firms to decontaminate and dismantle the facility.

The Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment (NRTE) – formerly HMS Vulcan – houses prototype nuclear propulsion plants used by the Royal Navy in its submarines.

But operations at the facility, where construction began in 1957, ceased in 2015. NRTE, currently operated by Rolls-Royce, is now in a post-operations phase, with preparations underway to defuel the short test facility, and reduce the sites radioactive inventory. The defueling is expected to take until 2022.

A ten-year contract aims to leave behind a brownfield site, with the Ministry of Defence then giving up its lease.

Over the years, HMS Vulcan prototyped five different reactor cores and provided data for seven different classes of submarine, including the Vanguard and Astute classes.

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