Dounreay Decommissioning Programme

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd this week updated staff and local community leaders about the shape of its decommissioning programme following January’s announcement about how much funding will be available in future.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has set a budget of up to £150 million a year. This is the basis of the Dounreay competition now underway, with the successful bidder implementing its winning proposal when it takes over the management of DSRL in late 2011/early 2012.

The figure is broadly similar to what the NDA has spent on Dounreay in recent years. DSRL previously described it as a “very good outcome in a very tough climate”.

The current programme that DSRL is working to envisaged an increase in spending over the next few years, so work has started to adjust the programme and bring down the cost of future years to meet the £150 million ceiling.

A number of options for deferral of work were looked at by DSRL and presented to NDA. The NDA and DSRL have proposed the following major projects will be delayed until the conclusion of the competition:

• The proposed new intermediate-level waste treatment plant and store

• The proposed new facilities for retrieval of waste from the shaft and silo

Alternative requirements will be discussed with regulators.

Development work continues while DSRL takes the opportunity presented by the rephasing to review its strategy and look at other, more affordable options for managing intermediate-level waste from the site closure programme.

Construction of the new low-level waste disposal facility will proceed as scheduled, but the retention of this project in the forward plan means other savings need to be found to bring the site within the £150m cap. Work is continuing to identify these savings.

The NDA has provided the site with additional funding over the next 12 months to carry out the work needed to realign the site’s forward spending plans with the funding cap. This includes provision for the termination of work planned for the construction of these two new major facilities.

Separately, the NDA and site licence companies will be aiming to reduce their overheads by 20 per cent over the next three years. This reflects the pressure on all areas of public spending to reduce costs as a result of the recession. Work is underway to identify where these savings will be made in DSRL.

Simon Middlemas, managing director of DSRL, said: “We will work our way through the detail and impact of these changes over the coming weeks and months, so that we begin 2011/12 with a programme capped at £150m and a diminishing proportion spent on overheads. We will keep staff, our supply chain and the community fully informed about the changes that will need to be made to our programme between now and then.”