The clearance of tens of thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste from the redundant nuclear site at Dounreay has moved a step closer after the contract to develop a disposal site for low-level waste was awarded.
Graham Construction will build the first two of up to six underground vaults capable of taking up 175,000m3 of radioactive debris from the decommissioning and closure of the site of Britain’s 20th century experiment with fast breeder reactors.
The contract, worth around £13M, was awarded by Dounreay Site Restoration (DSR).
Low level waste accounts for more than 80% by volume of the radioactive waste that will be produced during demolition of the site, but less than 0.01 per cent by radioactivity.
Since decommissioning started over a decade ago, approximately 11,500m3 of low-level waste has been processed and accumulated on the site. The scheduled opening of the first vault in 2013, subject to regulatory and other consents, will herald the beginning of waste clearance from the site.
The disposal site is located adjacent to the redundant nuclear site on land owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Graham is expected to move its team into position in September and start ground excavation in October.
Graham director Leo Martin said: “The contract to design and build the new low level waste disposal facility at Dounreay is an important one for Graham and it is our firm intention that the delivery of this project makes a positive contribution to the Caithness economy.
“We are therefore actively seeking to foster local involvement and enterprise through the use of local labour, equipment and materials and will aim to utilise the skills and experience of local small and medium-size enterprises wherever possible.
“We will be working hard with DSR over the coming months on the design of the facilities and aim to commence on site this autumn.”