Highlands & Islands

Material jammed in 60-year-old Dounreay reactor removed

Dounreay Image copyright DSRL
Image caption The Dounreay Fast Reactor's dome is the nuclear site's most distinctive buildings

Radioactive material jammed inside a Scottish nuclear reactor since the 1970s has been removed for disposal.

Remotely-operated tools were specially made to extract the breeder elements from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR).

The DFR and its dome-shaped housing are to be demolished as part of the wider decommissioning of the former nuclear power site near Thurso.

Dismantling the 60-year-old DFR is among the most challenging of the decommissioning work.

It had been suggested in the past the dome, also known as the sphere and golf ball, could be saved as a listed building and even put to use as a hotel or a night club.

Swollen and jammed

Breeder is a material once used in the process of generating nuclear power at Dounreay.

After the 1950s-built DFR was closed in 1977 most of the breeder elements were removed, but almost 1,000 cylindrical breeder elements were found to be swollen and jammed in place.

They had to left where they were until tools could be developed to remove them.

Half of the jammed elements have now been removed.

The site of Britain's former centre of nuclear fast reactor research and development, Dounreay is in the process of being decommissioned and the land cleaned up.

An interim end state, when the decommissioning work has been completed, is expected to be reached between 2030 and 2033.

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