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Caithness News Bulletins February 2006

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Dounreay News    

An alternative location for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste from decommissioning Dounreay has been identified by the site’s operators after listening to the views of local residents.

UKAEA has reconsidered its choice of location for a series of shallow engineered vaults following feedback received during the first round of consultation meetings held with residents and the local community in December 2005.

A better location that uses part of the existing Dounreay site and an area immediately beside the boundary fence will now be put forward for formal consultation for the disposal of wastes that arise during the clean-up and demolition of the former fast reactor research site. More important is that the new area is further away from the nearest home.

The revised plan is being outlined to local residents at meetings being held this week with project staff from Dounreay.

UKAEA believes the new site still meets the technical criteria for safety and environmental protection, while endeavouring to address the concerns expressed by residents in December about how close the proximity of the original proposal was to their homes. The size of area required for the facilities means there is no suitable area within the existing site.

The proposal includes siting a grouting plant within the existing site, which will be screened by an existing shelter of trees. The proposed administration block has also been redesigned as a single storey building.

UKAEA has pledged to continue the dialogue with local residents as the project moves forward. Subject to planning and other consents, the facility is due to open in 2012.

Simon Middlemas, Dounreay’s deputy director, who last night hosted the first of two meetings this week with local residents, said: “We have tried very hard to engage the public in making choices about how to manage the radioactive wastes from decommissioning Dounreay. The decision to pursue a disposal facility at Dounreay was made following widespread consultation, enabling us to move onto a site selection process and the next phase of consultation with our neighbours about the choice of location.

“The project team received a lot of feedback during the consultative meetings in December. I’m pleased that a significant amount of additional design, safety assessment and environmental impact assessment work has enabled us to identify a suitable revised location as far away as possible from local residents but still meeting all the technical requirements. We believe this new location is a good, alternative site, and I am committed to continuing the dialogue as we move forward.”

Low-level waste represents less than 0.01 per cent of all waste at Dounreay in terms of radioactivity but 80–90 per cent in terms of volume. A vigorous waste minimisation programme has been implemented to reduce the size of the disposal facility required to the minimum necessary to complete the decommissioning of the site.

UKAEA held a meeting with their near neighbours on Tuesday evening and a drop-in meeting with the local community will be held on Thursday 23 February in Reay Village Hall between 7.00 – 9.00 pm.

Detailed plans, together with an Environmental Impact Assessment, are due to be completed by the end of March.