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February 4, 2010

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“Daunting” nuclear-plant cleaning programme proves successful

The Dounreay facility in Caithness, Scotland was closed in 1998 after 39 years of operation. The ‘amber’ area of the site was highly contaminated and housed equipment to dissolve uranium in acid.The clean-up operation was classed as high priority by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. Before any clean-up work could start, the ventilation system had to be upgraded to ensure it was suitable. Once the conditions were safe a team of 12 workers began to remove four-inch thick slab tanks, which used to hold radioactive liquid.The team also used a demolition robot to destroy 32 reinforced concrete plinths that separated the tanks. During the course of the project approximately 130 tonnes of concrete rubble was sentenced as low-level waste.Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd project manager, David Manson, described the project as a “daunting task”. He said: “The amber area was vast, and full of equipment, as well as being highly contaminated.“We tackled the work a bit at a time, and made steady progress. We have proved that we can take on large decommissioning jobs and get them done.”

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