DMTR - Scotland's oldest nuclear reactor

Skyline changing decommissioning contract secured at Dounreay

Cavendish Nuclear, the UK’s leading nuclear services business, is to carry out the dismantling and demolition of Scotland’s oldest nuclear reactor.

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, the site licence company responsible for the clean-up and closure of the former nuclear research facility, awarded the multi-million pound contract to Cavendish Nuclear for the final phase of decommissioning the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR) following a competitive tendering exercise.

Working with key supply chain partners, Cavendish Nuclear expects to take three years to complete the removal of the reactor.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s director of nuclear operations, Alan Cumming, said:

“The start of the work to demolish the DMTR represents a significant step in our mission to decommission and clean-up the legacy from the very earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry.”

Cavendish Nuclear director Natalie Nisbet said:

“I am delighted our innovative and collaborative approach to reactor dismantling, using proven and cost-effective technology in conjunction with the local supply chain, will deliver the greatest skyline change seen at Dounreay for many years.”

The start of the work to demolish the DMTR represents a significant step in our mission to decommission and clean-up the legacy from the very earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry.

Alan Cumming, Director of Nuclear Operations

DMTR became Scotland’s first operating reactor when it achieved criticality in 1958. It was used for irradiation tests on materials until its shutdown in 1969. The fuel, heavy-water coolant and redundant plant have been removed, leaving the reactor vessel, supports and containment shell ready for final removal.

Cavendish Nuclear will combine proven, off-the-shelf technology with tight controls on radiological exposure and radioactive contamination to safely remove the remaining structures from the inside out.

Expected low dose rates remove the need for complex, remotely-operated tooling and allow for stricter segregation at source of different waste streams, avoiding the unnecessary and costly accumulation of contaminated material.

Cavendish Nuclear has appointed JGC Engineering and Technical Services, Veolia through its subsidiary KDC, and Frazer-Nash Consultancy as its key supply chain partners.

Caithness-based JGC will carry out the removal of equipment and decommissioning of the reactor block. The company is one of the most experienced in decommissioning work at the site, and recently completed the removal of the adjoining D1251 ancillary building as well as numerous other decommissioning projects over many years across the Dounreay site.

Director Stephen Sutherland said:

“The team at JGC are delighted to be working with Cavendish Nuclear on such a high profile project as the decommissioning of the DMTR facility and look forward to delivering a safe and successful project to DSRL over the next three years.”

JGC will be supported by local subcontractors Gunn’s of Lybster, Caithness Scaffolding and Hugh Simpson Ltd during the works phase.

I am delighted our innovative and collaborative approach to reactor dismantling, using proven and cost-effective technology in conjunction with the local supply chain, will deliver the greatest skyline change seen at Dounreay for many years.

Natalie Nisbet, Director Cavendish Nuclear

Veolia/KDC is currently decommissioning a similar research reactor in the UK – the Consort facility at Imperial College in Ascot, using the same proven techniques to size reduce the reactor into blocks that will be deployed for this project. Veolia/KDC is one of the leading demolition contractors in the UK, particularly on the civil nuclear sector, having successfully delivered numerous decommissioning projects around the NDA estate.

Ian Williams, director, Veolia said:

“We are extremely pleased to be part of the team that will deliver such an iconic project and look forward to drawing on our nuclear decommissioning expertise and experience, supported by our exemplary health and safety record to ensure its success.”

Frazer-Nash, a subsidiary of Babcock International Group, will augment Cavendish Nuclear’s safety case and engineering capabilities.

Cavendish Nuclear and its partners have pledged to source materials and services from local sub-contractors as part of a commitment to the socio-economic development of Dounreay’s supply chain and wider Caithness community.