Highlands & Islands

Images of Dounreay reactor's inside - the first in 50 years

Images from inside reactor
Image caption The cameras recorded images of internal structures and the breeder fuel matrix

The first footage in 50 years has been taken of what lies inside the UK's first fast breeder nuclear reactor.

Digital cameras were inserted into the reactor housed within Dounreay's dome.

The cameras, designed and manufactured in nearby Wick, recorded images of the internal structures and the breeder fuel matrix.

Dounreay in Caithness was the centre of the UK fast breeder reactor research programme from 1954 until 1994. The site is now being demolished.

The images will help Dounreay Site Restoration Limited to prepare plans for the removal of radioactive fuel still inside the reactor, and the eventual dismantling of the reactor.

The dome is a steel sphere that was built between 1955 and 1958.

Image caption Dounreay's dome was constructed in the 1950s

The fast reactor inside the dome was the first in the world to provide electricity to a national grid in 1962. Enough power was generated for a town the size of nearby Thurso, which has a population of between 7,000 and 9,000.

The reactor was shut down in 1977.

In 2011, plans to repaint the dome in Caithness at a cost of £500,000 were cancelled.

David Stewart MSP had said the work would be a waste of money as the sphere was to be demolished.

The repaint had been done every 10 years to protect the dome's metal work.

DSRL said that following an assessment the steel was deemed thick enough to last as a protection until the reactor inside was dismantled.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites