Highlands & Islands

Crucial stage reached in Dounreay reactor work

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Media captionEngineers at the Dounreay nuclear site are beginning a crucial phase in decommissioning the plant's main reactor.

Engineers at the Dounreay power nuclear complex in Caithness have begun a crucial phase in decommissioning the site's main reactor.

The Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) was shut down in 1994 after 20 years in operation.

Remotely-operated robotic tools have been specially designed for dismantling the reactor.

The facilities at Dounreay, near Thurso, are being dismantled and the site cleaned.

Among the most complex tasks involve dealing with the PFR and the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR). The DFR is contained within the site's landmark dome.

Image caption Engineers have had to go back to plans of how the PFR was built and operated to understand how to take it apart

Graeme Dunnett, senior project manager of the PFR clean-up, said his team were using original schematics of the reactor to help them work out how to decommission it.

He told BBC Scotland: "Since it was operational no-one has been in that area for over 40 years so everything is having to be done remotely.

"We have gone back to the drawings and operating aspects of how it was put together.

"We are also fortunate enough to have senior members of the team who were present when it was operational and we have been able to use their experience to design and manufacture tools to take the reactor apart."

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