The concrete floor slab for an intermediate waste storage facility in Dounreay, Scotland, has been completed ahead of schedule the Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) said on Friday. Recently, the DSRL said that half of the fuel left in the Dounreay fast reactor had been removed.
The floor slab for the facility, which Graham Construction expects to complete by the end of 2021, required 3,100 metric tons of concrete and 184 metric tons of reinforced metal bars (rebar). Dounreay Program Delivery Director David Hubbard said the floor slab completion was a “significant milestone,” noting that the project has progressed so far without an on-site accident.
DSRL recently said that half of the leftover fuel in the 1950s era fast reactor at Dounreay, the first in the world connected to the grid, had been removed. The reactor was constructed at a time when a worldwide shortage or uranium made fast breeder technology appealing. The reactor’s core was surrounded by natural uranium elements that, when exposed to the effects of radiation, would create a viable fuel, plutonium.
The Dounreay reactor was shut down in 1977, and much of the core fuel was removed. But work to remove elements from the breeder zone was halted after some were found to have become “swollen and jammed.” Around two-thirds of the breeder zone fuel was left in place, forcing DSRL to create site-specific fuel removal technology. This included “purpose-built tools that reached down into the reactor to cut the breeder elements free and lift them into a flask for removal to the next stage of the process.”
The technologically challenging project relied heavily on local manufactured tooling. Local companies involved in the project includes JGC Engineering and Technical, Precision Machining Services. Electrical control and instrumentation work was handled by Contec Design Services.
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