Summer / Autumn 2021

Designs on restoration at Dounreay

James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) is working as a partner in the joint venture, Nuclear Decommissioning Ltd (NDL) on two major new contracts at Dounreay, the former UK fast reactor nuclear research site in Caithness, Scotland.

The contracts help to ensure the benefits of low-carbon nuclear energy remains safe, secure and sustainable in the future and form a critical part of the nuclear energy life cycle.

The first project is a multi-million pound contract for the design of specialist remote handling equipment for the prototype fast reactor (PFR) facility. Design schemes are being produced for the equipment, methodologies and processes required to enable the direct export of irradiated fuel from where it is stored in the PFR into a shielded transport flask, to be safely transferred to Sellafield for long-term storage.

This contract forms a key part of the long-term strategic plan of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the government funded organisation responsible for the decommissioning and remediation of the site. JFN is playing a key role in all aspects of the engineering, project, and commercial management of the project, and is working collaboratively with DSRL and alongside its NDL partners.

Leading the engineering on behalf of NDL, JFN’s design manager Carl Banks says:

‘We have created a great rapport and understanding with the team at Dounreay and we are utilising our extensive experience of similar projects at Sellafield. The removal of the irradiated fuel from the cells in the PFR building is a key goal for DSRL, and one which will significantly advance decommissioning progress on the site.’

‘This is the first major contract DSRL has awarded to NDL and it marks a key milestone in the decommissioning of the Dounreay site,’ says JFN sales director, Steve Tulk. ‘The fact that the work has been awarded to NDL puts the team in a prime position to demonstrate its technical competence and breadth of capability and paves the way for the follow-on design and build project,’ he adds.

The NDL joint venture has also won a multi-million pound contract to develop concept and scheme decommissioning plans in support of the eventual decommissioning of Dounreay’s high active liquor storage and evaporation facility (HALSEF).

This facility stored the highly active liquid wastes derived from the reprocessing of irradiated fuels from Dounreay’s reactors and also from several similar material test reactors across the UK and overseas.

The JFN team is working on a strategy to decommission the 19 active liquid storage tanks (most of which are underground), as well as the freestanding three-storey buildings that service them above ground.

‘Decommissioning the HALSEF facility is a major undertaking and one that will take DSRL a considerable way along its decommissioning timeline,’ says JFN technical director Geoff Ashworth. ‘By delivering a successful strategy in collaboration with the site stakeholders, NDL will play its part in helping DSRL receive global recognition for decommissioning excellence, whilst moving the site towards its ultimate goal of closure.’

NDL delivery team project manager, Tim Fox, adds:

‘Vital to the success of this project is to have full stakeholder engagement throughout. Developing the decommissioning plan for the HALSEF facility collaboratively in this way ensures that we develop a successful partnership with the teams at Dounreay, combining our skills, knowledge and experience to deliver an effective solution and real value.’

JFN’s test and development facility, located at Bower in Scotland, is strategically positioned close to Dounreay to provide local accommodation for the NDL team members and it is proving to be fundamental to NDL’s delivery of current and future projects on the Dounreay site.

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