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Completion of the programme has been accelerated to 2036 and the undiscounted cost reduced from £3.695 billion to £2.695 billion.
Across the UK, the UKAEA today is announcing it has cut the estimated cost of the clean-up of all its nuclear sites by almost a third.
The revised forecasts are contained in long-range plans submitted to the Government and regulators in preparation for the launch next April of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
UKAEA Dounreay director Norman Harrison said: “My team has responded magnificently to the challenge of becoming a competitive contractor to the NDA. We have found innovative ways to decommission this site faster and at less cost to the taxpayer, but without compromising our absolute commitment to the safe and secure protection of the site and the local environment.
“We will, however, not stop at 2036. UKAEA has set the pace of decommissioning within Europe, and will continue to develop and improve our site restoration plans. Our aim is for Dounreay to be the international benchmark of how to decommission a complex, technically challenging site with significant radiological hazards. We are committed to engaging stakeholders in our plans and processes, by ensuring consistent and meaningful consultation on a wide range of issues and strategies, a process in which we lead the nuclear industry.
“I recognise that acceleration of our programme has an impact on the economic base of the community. I am committed to working closely with the Scottish Executive, Highlands and Islands Enterprise network, Highland Council, the contracting community and others to manage the transition as sensitively as we can, taking full advantage of the development opportunities arising from a programme of work worth almost £2.7 billion.”
Breakthroughs have been achieved by bringing forward reactor decommissioning; avoiding the need to build new facilities by shortening the lifetimes for which existing facilities need to operate; introducing parallel working; integrating projects into site-wide programmes with shared facilities; and cost-effective treatment of fuels. Recent reductions in infrastructure costs have also allowed UKAEA to put more resources into front-line decommissioning.
Staffing requirements have been revised downwards and annual expenditure projections have been adjusted in line with revised spending guidelines set by the Government.
How The Timescale Came
The long-range decommissioning plans produced annually for the NDA are known as Life Cycle Base Lines. The first Life Cycle Base Line was produced for Dounreay in September 2003 and set a completion date of 2063. This was revised to 2047 in March 2004. The original timescale for decommissioning Dounreay was 100 years.
The Dounreay Base Line is now the subject of detailed discussion with regulators and other stakeholders. Initially, the NDA will contract UKAEA as the existing site licensee to manage the site decommissioning programme.
"Although estimates of duration of the clean-up task have changed over the years, it has, for some time, been clear that the work will peak in intensity over the next two decades.
"We have been aware that UKAEA has been working to accelerate the clean-up programme. However, until now, there has been no indication that the change in timescale and budget would be so dramatic, or that there would be an immediate impact on jobs.
"Dounreay remains an important economic driver and, despite the revised timescale, it still offers the opportunity to continue developing an international centre of excellence in a hugely significant international industry.
"The reduction in timescale and spend does however bring into sharper focus the need to ensure that the benefit to local businesses is maximised in the short term and that, in the longer term, the experience and skills developed during the process are marketed elsewhere. It will also accelerate the need to identify alternative development opportunities to ensure a sustainable economy in the longer term.
"We will continue to work
with UKAEA and others to ensure that the benefits from the decommissioning
process are maximised in the north and also to lay the foundations for a
sustainable economy in the far north in the longer
"We have to plan for a post-Dounreay era and it is to be hoped that the area will see real and lasting benefit from the alternative investment in the area of some of the huge savings to the public purse derived from the accelerated clean-up programme."