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Caithness News Bulletins September 2003
SCOTLAND'S FIRST REACTOR REACHES FINAL STAGE OF DECOMMISSIONING
Scotland's first operational nuclear reactor is one step away from its complete decommissioning.
The penultimate stage of decommissioning the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR) has been completed, leaving the reactor block ready for demolition following a period of passive care and maintenance to allow for further radioactive decay. DMTR was one of three reactors built and operated at UKAEA Dounreay between 1958 and 1994. All three reactors are now in their decommissioning stages.
DMTR, which went critical in May 1958, was designed to test how different materials performed when irradiated. Scientists and engineers working on the fast reactor experiment at Dounreay used this information to develop safely the new type of reactor.
The 25 MW test reactor was shut down in May 1969 and its uranium fuel and heavy water coolant removed by 1971. It was placed in a state of care and maintenance until 1996, when a decommissioning team began to prepare for the second stage of decommissioning the removal of the redundant equipment from the containment building.
This work has now been completed, enabling the UK Atomic Energy Authority to place the reactor structure in a state of passive care and maintenance pending its ultimate demolition during a later phase of the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan. The main contractors for the penultimate stage of decommissioning were Mitsui Babcock and Nicolson Engineering.
UKAEA Dounreay director Peter Welsh said: "DMTR played an important part in the history of the fast reactor experiment at Dounreay. Our task now is to consign the reactor to history in a way that protects the environment, so I am pleased that we have now safely completed the penultimate stage of its decommissioning and delivered another of the milestones in the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan."
Expenditure on decommissioning and site restoration work at Dounreay is £140-150 million a year. This is worth approximately £75 million a year to the economy of the Highlands.