The test nuclear reactor at the Naval Reactor Test Establishment in Caithness has been officially shut down having safely completed its work.
The Shore Test Facility (STF) reactor was closed down last night. As part of the Establishment, was used as a prototype to give advance notice of any potential issues or problems that might occur on board a submarine.
After more than 13 years of operation, the STF reactor is no longer needed and so has been shut down in preparation for future decommissioning of the facility.
Head of the programme, Commodore John Corderoy said:
Much has been learnt about nuclear reactors and it was a valuable exercise to set up the shore test facility at the time that we did. However, the prototyping mission is now complete and so it is natural for the reactor to be shut down.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said:
Work on the NRTE started in 1957, and since 1965 it has operated five different types of submarine reactor core. This valuable work has been crucial in providing the MOD with a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the long term operation of nuclear reactor cores.
With its job done, I want to pay tribute to the countless people – scientists, naval officers and technicians – who have over the last 50 years pushed the boundaries of science at the Vulcan NRTE and, in so doing, played a vital role in keeping our country safe.
Now work begins on post-operational activity, much of which will focus on the defuelling of the reactor, clearance of fuel from the site and preparations for future decommissioning and disposal of both the reactors on the site and their component parts expected some time after 2022. Post-operational activity continues until about 2022, so the existing test reactor workforce will be substantially re-deployed onto the post-operational work.