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WORK ON DECOMMISSIONING CENTRE GETS UNDERWAY

Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) and Highland and Islands Enterprise's (HIE) aim of creating a decommissioning centre of excellence in the far north reached another milestone today with the first ground works starting at the Janetstown site.

The 7 million industrial and office development is being constructed by HIE with funding from the organisation totalling around 3 million, with a further 2.4 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Caithness firm, JGC Engineering is set to lease the property from HIE and CASE, which will house the Trials, Training and Test Facility (TTTF) and the UHI Millennium Institute and North Highland College's Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Centre (DERC).


 L - r James Simon - Partner and engineer for Arch Henderson - Neil Morris - Project Manager with Tulloch
Tim O'Brien - GJC - Carol Buxton - Rosemary Thomson (not sure about spelling of surname) Principal North
Highland college - George Reeves - DERC - North Highland College - Fred CatlowSenior Consultant -DERC
Norman Harrison - UKAEA

Chief executive of CASE Carroll Buxton said: "This is a very important day.  It marks the beginning of one of our most ambitious projects, which is set to have a major impact on the economy of Caithness and Sutherland and the wider Highlands and Islands.

"In order to take full advantage of the decommissioning of Dounreay we have to be prepared in terms of industrial and office accommodation.  As important, is the need to be able to cater for the ongoing skills needs that are associated with decommissioning."

She continued: "The TTTF will provide an ideal location to undertake a number of trials and tests relating to decommissioning projects at Dounreay.  It will also provide a safe environment for the training of personnel who will be undertaking these projects.

"Managed by local business, JGC Engineering and Technical Services, the facility will be available for use by a wide range of national and international contractors undertaking complex and challenging engineering projects in a variety of sectors."

Jock Campbell of JGC Engineering - one of the Highlands largest private engineering employers - said: "We are delighted to see the construction of TTTF finally get underway.  This facility is designed principally to meet the needs of off-site trials and testing for the decommissioning of nuclear installations, initially focusing on DFR, and the ILW Shaft at Dounreay.

"With this facility, we can help the United Kingdom Energy Authority (UKAEA) to complete site restorations safer, quicker and at a lower cost, while jointly offering the opportunity for secure and long term local employment to its designated team of engineers and operators.

"We are also aware of opportunities developing from around the world for the facilities and the particular decommissioning expertise that we can develop with TTTF.  We aim to explore these opportunities and feel confident that with TTTF, we can be involved in nuclear decommissioning in a much wider market in the years to come."

The TTTF element of the project is costing a total of 3.5 million with  2.1 million coming from HIE and 1.4 coming from Europe.  Match funding of almost 1 million from both HIE and ERDF, plus 221,780 from UHI, is supporting the establishment of the DERC.

North Highland College - on behalf of the UHI Millennium Institute - will lease part of the building from JGC Engineering for the DERC, which is set to become a centre of expertise in decommissioning, and of international importance.

Programmes will be provided for a wide range of specialisms for research students having some experience with tailored projects - at both Masters and PhD level - in addition to continuing with the new employee and contractor in-service training at all levels of site decommissioning and remediation at Dounreay or at other sites.

Emphasis will be on in-service training and staff development, with Continuous Professional Development courses and block modules, leading to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, for both local, Scottish and overseas students.  Re-skilling and technology transfer, both within and outside the nuclear industry, will be the hall-marks of DERCs training programmes with mature and experienced engineering, scientific and technology staff in mind.

Close collaboration will continue with Aberdeen University, in particular, and also with other UK Universities.

DERC director, George Reeves, said: "The new centre for nuclear and contaminated ground decommissioning is being set up by the North Highland College, part of the UHI Millennium Institute, which will eventually become part of the new University of the Highlands and Islands in 2007.

"The college has trained engineers and scientists for nearly 50 years.  These people have historically worked for the UKAEA at Dounreay since its inception in 1957.

"Now that Dounreay has entered the decommissioning and site remediation stages, with no further nuclear power or fuel cycle development, DERC will initially concentrate on equipping the nuclear industry in particular with specialist trained personnel.

"The skills will be highly transferable and valued by other sectors, particularly those working in remediation in difficult environments, for example oil, gas, mining and the chemical industry."

Norman Harrison, director of UKAEA Dounreay, said: "The developments taking place at Janetstown underline the skills, enterprise and opportunity that the decommissioning of Dounreay is nurturing.  We want to work with the public and private sector to make the most of these opportunities and so enhance the national and international reputation of the Highlands as a centre of excellence in decommissioning."

Construction firm Tulloch is in charge of the building project, which is expected to be completed early in 2005.