Sharing nuclear technology across UK

A Dounreay health physicist recently completed a trip to the Magnox Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex.

Karen Gunn made the long journey to the other end of the UK as part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s ongoing technology exchange programme, where lessons learned and challenges experienced and overcome are shared across the NDA’s estate to promote decommissioning efficiencies and help save time and money.

Not only did Karen gain some valuable knowledge from other Magnox sites, but she was able to provide them with an insight into the pioneering techniques that we have deployed with our own pond decommissioning at Dounreay.

With an overall objective of exchanging best radiological protection practices, these knowledge sharing forums are crucial to develop and share technical operating practices and innovative decommissioning techniques with each other. Representatives were present from sites around the country at Chaplecross, Hinkley, Bradwell, Sizewell, Hunterston, Trawsfynydd, Dungeness and Olbury.

Karen explained: “Each site representative gave a detailed presentation of their pond’s structure, work carried out to date, doses accrued and dose rate data. Good practices and opportunities for shared learning were discussed and lessons learned in technical areas such as underwater dose rate surveying, ventilation systems and sludge tank access space were discussed.

“Most sites are in the process of ‘drain and seal’ or progressing towards it. Bradwell is challenging the ‘end state’ to be a model that can be rolled out across all sites. There is currently no agreed end state with the regulators for Bradwell, so the decisions made will have a huge impact for other Magnox ponds projects.”

Karen went on to add: “These forums are extremely worthwhile. It was clear by the end of the meeting that there was parallel thinking on the decommissioning of nuclear ponds. There was an excellent exchange of information and it was unanimously agreed that successful project delivery requires full staff and stakeholder support to develop a programme that works and meets its goals.”

Stuart Chalmers, NDA programme manager, said: ‘”Sharing expertise and knowledge across our NDA estate is one of the requirements the government has placed on the NDA. We have encouraged DSRL to maximise the benefits of this approach and fully support Karen in her continuing involvement with Magnox.”

This was the fifth meeting of its kind. The next forum will be held in around six month’s time.

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