News story

First cut out of reactor pond wall

Removal of the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) pond wall is underway.

Dounreay pond wall block work

The first block of concrete has been removed from the structure of 1 of Dounreay’s cooling ponds – representing a major first step in demolishing the redundant giant chamber.

The pond is 1 of 2 concrete pits, 6 metres deep, which was used to store spent fuel from the DFR. When in operation they resembled deep swimming pools, containing around 500m³ of water, providing shielding for workers from radiation emitted from spent fuel. They have now been drained of water and sludge, while redundant equipment has been removed.

There are around 180 blocks of concrete, individually weighing around 1 tonne, to be removed from each pond and packaged as waste.

Suzanne Griffiths, Project Manager, said:

“Decommissioning of the ponds is technically challenging. While each block is only around 1m², it is extremely heavy and the process of cutting it is complex. The team has worked exceptionally well together and applied lateral thinking, deploying new techniques to allow the concrete liner to be removed in preparation for final demolition.”

DFR is 1 of the highest hazards in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s estate and the safe removal of associated plants and facilities is crucial to getting Dounreay to its interim end state.

Published 16 February 2017