Dounreay Decomissioning Speeds Up Again
Senior figures from government and industry are gathering at Dounreay today to hear the site's new clean-up team set out their vision to accelerate the demolition of Britain's second largest civil nuclear site.
Three of the world's biggest engineering and project management companies - Babcock International, CHM2HILL and URS - have come together to win the largest site closure contract ever let in the UK.
Their aim is to complete the decommissioning of the site by 2022-25 and reduce the cost to the UK taxpayer by over £1 billion.
The consortium, known as the Babcock Dounreay Partnership, officially took over Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd at the weekend. It will use the company's 950 staff and supply chain to clean up and demolish the remainder of the site.
"We will be setting new standards for decommissioning delivery, safety and environmental protection. We want to establish Dounreay as the European reference site for nuclear decommissioning and site closure," said Roger Hardy, a senior Babcock executive who becomes managing director of DSRL.
He is joined initially by a team of 10 other secondees from the three parent companies who now fill positions in the site licence company.
"We are delighted now to be officially in contract and able to implement the partnership's new vision for the Dounreay site," he added.
"Babcock, CH2MHILL and URS bring international know-how and proven technologies new to the UK to one of the world's most demanding clean-up and closure jobs. I'm excited by the opportunity to work with staff, the supply chain and regulators on their implementation.
"We will reduce the cost to the UK Government of closing down this site through proven innovation, not just by doing the same thing better. We are excited by the prospect of working with the DSRL team to complete the mission they've started and deliver a world-class clean-up safely and cost-effectively."
The redundant nuclear site consists of three nuclear reactors, fuel reprocessing plants, laboratories and various waste facilities that are a legacy of the site's 20th century role as Britain's centre of fast reactor research and development.
The first Dounreay site restoration plan published in 2000 projected a clean-up taking until 2063 to complete at a cost of £4 billion.
By 2005, when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority was established and took over the site, this had reduced to 2036 and £2.7 billion.
Two years ago, the NDA invited companies to tender for a contract to complete the site's closure for a price not exceeding £150 million a year.
Babcock Dounreay Partnership's 2022-25 bid earned it preferred bidder status from the NDA in November 2011. Its acquisition of DSRL was completed at the weekend following a four-month transition period.
The contract is to clear away all the redundant plant, get the resultant radioactive waste into a condition that is safe for long-term storage or disposal, and the site into a condition that is safe for future generations.
The new management team today begin the process of overwriting DSRL's existing clean-up programme with their successful bid. Changes to the programme are subject to normal regulatory controls governing safety, security and environmental protection.
Key features include a new target cost incentive fee contract arrangement (involving sharing risk with the NDA), an accelerated closure date, a new project-focussed methodology and a programme of support and mentoring for the local business community as it adjusts to the site closure.
The Nuclear Decommissiong Authority today marked the completition of its competitive tendering process with a VIP event at the site. Guests included Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland at the UK Government; Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment at the Scottish Government; NDA chairman Stephen Henwood and chief executive John Clarke; Kevin Thomas, chair of Babcock Dounreay Partnership; and local parliamentarians John Thurso MP and Rob Gibson MSP
During tours of the site, they were shown progress to date to dismantle the redundant nuclear plant and were taken inside the spherical reactor hall of the part-decommissioned experimental fast reactor.
About 80 invited guests attended a ceremony in the site's canteen to mark the contract award.
Tonight, the new management team hosts a reception for community representatives at the University of the Highlands and Islands campus in Thurso where they will outline their plans to help the area adjust to the social and economic consequences of site closure.