Nine years of strong decommissioning and waste management progress at the Dounreay site

Following nine years of high hazard reduction and strong decommissioning and waste management progress at the Dounreay site, ownership of Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has now transferred from the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The NDA has recognised the strong performance delivered by the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership and the Dounreay site team as it took over the site today in line with its ‘One NDA’ strategy, which follows similar changes made to the Sellafield business in 2016 and Magnox in 2019.

The Cavendish Dounreay Partnership, a consortium of Cavendish Nuclear, Jacobs and Amentum, has been responsible for delivering the safe decommissioning of the Dounreay site since the contract was awarded in April 2012 – reflecting nearly a decade of decommissioning delivery and high hazard reduction.

Key highlights:

During this time, key milestones have been achieved in hazard reduction and in safely decommissioning the site.  Highlights include:

  • Achieving a strategically important milestone in the decommissioning of Dounreay through the successful transfer of exotic fuels away from the site including its stock of civil separated plutonium and around 700kg of highly enriched uranium.  A significant project for Dounreay and a priority for the UK government.
  • Removal of radioactive fuel elements from inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor, one of the most technically challenging projects in the UK nuclear estate and shipment to Sellafield.
  • Safe immobilisation of high activity liquid waste streams arising from reprocessing operations, into passively safe cement waste packages suitable for long term storage
  • Treatment and passivation of much of the sites inventory of alkali metals
  • Opening and operation of permanent disposal facilities to house low-level waste, including disposal of over 200 Low Level Waste (LLW) containers, along with construction of facilities to grout low level waste. Opening of new off-site metallic waste recycling route for non-containerised wastes
  • Ensured the continued safety of our people, partners and communities throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the Dounreay team being awarded the National Skills Academy Nuclear’s Community Award this year.
  • In addition, substantial progress has been made on long-term projects including the Shaft & Silo Retrieval project, decommissioning of the original Dounreay Materials Test Reactor, and construction of a new Interim Waste Store for interim storage of higher activity wastes in line with Scottish Government Policy.

Dominic Kieran, on behalf of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership said,

“We are incredibly proud of the significant decommissioning progress and high hazard reduction that the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership and Dounreay team has delivered over the last nine years.

“The key milestones we have achieved in hazard reduction and in safely decommissioning the site mean that the Dounreay team is well-placed to build on the strong decommissioning progress achieved under the ownership of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership.”

NDA Chief Executive, David Peattie, said:

“The change at DSRL is part of a series of steps to transition us from the contractually driven parent body organisation construct to a more flexible and agile group approach. 

“I’d like to thank the parent body organisation for the important contribution it has made to UK nuclear clean-up and decommissioning”.

As the respective partner companies of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership, Cavendish Nuclear, Jacobs and Amentum, will continue to support the site’s nuclear clean-up and decommissioning work through other existing contracts, which are unaffected by this change.