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Dounreay nuclear site land ready for re-use in 2333

21 August 2020
Image: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

It will take until 2333 for the land on which Dounreay nuclear reactor facility sits to be safe for re-use, following remediation work by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Dounreay, in Caithness, Scotland, was the UK site for the development of fast reactor research from 1955 to 1994 and supported a materials test reactor (MTR), two demonstration fast reactors, as well as nuclear fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities.

The 60-hectare site has also supported commercial MTR fuel reprocessing and fabrication and there are historic low-level nuclear waste facilities at the site.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said that a new facility for storing waste arising from the treatment of liquid waste streams was under construction and nuclear fuels from the Dounreay Fast Reactor and Prototype Fast Reactor were being removed. A stock of civil separated plutonium has also been transferred to Sellafield.

The company in charge of decommissioning the site is also emptying waste from disposal facilities at the 65.4m-deep “shaft” where radioactive waste was disposed of from 1959 until 1977.

Work to empty waste from the “shaft” will be completed in 2029, with final remediation of the area complete by 2031. All land at the Dounreay site is expected to be remediated by 2032 but it will take another 301 years before the site will be deemed safe for re-use.

Comments

Why would one want to use land for nuclear installations when a number of renewables, not least tidal power are available, albeit expensive in the short term, how expensive would a failed nuclear Site be?

What would the cost be to build, run, maintain and decommission a nuclear site, particularly when considering the unavailability of the land for hundreds of years after decommissioning?

If the tide were to stop running we wouldn’t need any power source.

Marc Rawinsky, 25 August 2020