Compensation for false teeth lost in nuclear reactor ‘rebuffed’
An engineer who sneezed sending his dentures plunging to the bottom of a nuclear reactor was turned down for compensation.
The claim for the false teeth, which may well still be at the bottom of the reactor, was revealed by Dounreay heritage officer, James Gunn, in this month’s issue of the Dounreay News.
Dounreay, one of Britian’s first nuclear reactors when it opened in 1955, has been in the process of being decommissioned since 2005.
Mr Gunn, who is preserving both the physical and oral history of the historic site, revealed the tale of the dentures when describing some of the more human stories he had come across.
The historian explained engineers needed to watch the reactor’s spherical ‘wall’ while it was running this was referred to as ‘watch-keeping’.
However, on one occasion an unnamed member of the team was leaning on railings facing the ‘wall’ when he sneezed.
Mr Gunn said: “Half a set of teeth, under the influence of gravity and the internal sphere slope, disappeared from view, rattling down to the, never visited, bottom sphere skirt, this was known to be a difficult area to access.”
Mr Gunn went on to explain the teeth were then the subject of a claim to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) but this was ‘rebuffed in firm administrative terms’.
He added: “Some future decommissioner or archaeologist may make a surprise find – or maybe, just, the teeth were retrieved long ago by shift initiative?”
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