Confirmation earlier this month that the transfer of 700kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Dounreay to the US has now been completed, is seen as an important milestone in the clean-up of the Caithness site. So too will be the removal of some of the most dangerous material left at the former nuclear plant, including fuel containing HEU and plutonium. These shipments to Sellafield in Cumbria, have been controversial, but are due to end in the next 12 months. Some of the greatest engineering challenges, however, still lie ahead. Not least dealing with the notorious Dounreay Shaft, where nuclear and chemical waste was dumped along with other items. Locals used it for fly-tipping unwanted items. In 1977 an explosion meant the shaft had to be sealed. Official estimates hold it could be another 300 years before the Dounreay site is free from radioactive contamination and safe for “unrestricted use”. The seabed immediately offshore may never recover from the contamination by radioactive particles.
Energy Voice 28th May 2019 read more »