When the plant was operating (1957-1998) the ‘amber’ area was a high-activity, high-contamination area. It housed equipment to dissolve uranium in acid so that reusable material could be recovered and waste products removed.
The nature of this work caused high levels of contamination and workers tasked with cleaning up the area were forced to wear cumbersome air-fed suits before they could enter.
The NDA was very keen to see the clean-up of this area, which was also classed as a high priority by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, completed on time – which it was.
Before any clean-up work could start, the ventilation system had to be modernised to ensure that it was adequate for the work and to ensure worker safety. Redundant glove boxes and solvent extraction plant were then stripped out, cleaned up and cut up before being packaged as waste.
The four-inch thick slab tanks that once held radioactive liquid were removed, and the team employed a Brokk remotely operated demolition robot to help them demolish the 32 reinforced concrete plinths that separated the tanks.
Approximately 130 tonnes of concrete rubble was sentenced as low level waste.
“We are very pleased to see yet another major hazard at Dounreay eliminated.
“This was a big job, and the team made steady progress by tackling it bit by bit – proving that they can take on large decommissioning jobs and get them done.
“The current competition for Dounreay will help to drive these sorts of results even further, and we are looking forward to seeing what potential bidders have to offer”.