Cavendish contracted to demolish Dounreay reactor

14 December 2018

Cavendish Nuclear has been awarded a three-year, multi-million pound contract to dismantle and demolish the oldest reactor on the Dounreay site in Scotland, the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR). The award of the contract followed a competitive tendering exercise.

The Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (Image: DSRL)

DMTR, which became Scotland's first operational reactor in 1958, tested the effects of irradiation on metals and was the only reactor on the site to use heavy water instead of liquid metal as a coolant. First criticality was achieved in a test rig known as ZETR (zero energy test reactor) located alongside DMTR on 13 August 1957.

Fuel was removed from DMTR soon after it shut down in 1969 and many of the surrounding facilities, including cooling towers, emergency control room and pipework have since been cleared out and demolished. The control room desk and panels were transferred to Caithness Horizons museum, in Thurso, in 2015, where they remain on display.

Cavendish Nuclear said it will "combine proven, off-the-shelf technology with tight controls on radiological exposure and radioactive contamination to safely remove the remaining structures from the inside out". The company has appointed local firm JGC Engineering & Technical Services, Veolia through its subsidiary KDC, and Frazer-Nash Consultancy as its key supply chain partners for the project.

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited, which is managing the decommissioning of the Dounreay site on behalf of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), said: "The demolition of the reactor building will be a major skyline change for Dounreay." It added, "This is the culmination of a decade-long project to remove the internal structures from the reactor and its support buildings including a fuel storage pond, waste drum store and post-irradiation examination cells."

The NDA's Director of Nuclear Operations, Alan Cumming, said: "The start of the work to demolish Dounreay Materials Test Reactor represents a significant step in our mission to decommission and clean-up the legacy from the very earliest days of the UK's nuclear industry."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News