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Dounreay offers advice on Chernobyl demolition work

21 April 11 00:10
Candles lit to mark the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl explosion

An employee at the Dounreay nuclear power plant has offered guidance on the decommissioning of Chernobyl.

The 25th anniversary of an explosion in a reactor at the Ukrainian site will be marked on 26 April.

Jillian Bundy was one of four foreign speakers at a workshop held in Slavutych on training workers on the demolition of Chernobyl.

She said the work should be seen as a long-term opportunity to develop new expertise and the economy.

Operations at Dounreay in Caithness ended in 2004 and the entire site is being cleaned up and demolished at a cost of £2.6bn.

Radioactive particles from the plant are also being recovered from beaches and the seabed nearby.

Ms Bundy, training and development manager with Dounreay Site Restoration Limited, said skills needed to operate Chernobyl could be turned to its demolition.

She added: "It can be difficult for people to make the adjustment, to become enthusiastic about dismantling something they may have spent their life building up.

"This can be especially true in areas where the plant is the economic mainstay.

"People can become fearful of what decommissioning will mean economically and socially to their families and neighbourhood.

"So it's essential to develop a culture that sees decommissioning as a long-term opportunity to develop new expertise and the prospect of prosperity beyond the clean-up."

Four reactors were built at Chernobyl.

Reactor four exploded in April 1986 and the others were shut down between 1991 and 2000.

The incident was caused by a sudden power output surge during a systems test.

This caused the reactor vessel to rupture, leading to a series of blasts. An intense fire burned for 10 days.

A UN report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008, however, disputes continue about how many will eventually die from contamination.

The damaged reactor has been encased in a concrete shell and a new containment structure is due to be completed by 2014.

Ukrainian authorities are also beginning to consider the process of decommissioning the plant.

Slavutych, where the training workshop was held, is a new town built to accommodate people evacuated from near Chernobyl.

In 1986, the authorities evacuated about 115,000 people from areas surrounding the reactor.

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