HSE/SEPA satisfied with progress at Dounreay

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) say that they are satisfied with the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) progress with closing out at Dounreay.

The second annual summary report on UKAEA’s progress in responding to the Dounreay 1998 safety audit shows that although, overall, the HSE/SEPA regard the progress made on their recommendations to be satisfactory, additional resources will be needed in order to carry out the remaining recommendations.

By the end of August, nine of the 143 audit recommendations had been formally closed out and 10 were expected to be closed out very soon, say HSE/SEPA. A further 10 were essentially finished, and had moved into a six-month review phase, whilst responses to another 51 had been submitted to HSE/SEPA for consideration. The implementation of a number of recommendations should result in improved organisation, systems, procedures, work programmes, plant state, and environmental performance, which should become part of normal routine business, say HSE/SEPA.

“While we welcome the progress to date, it is clear from the large backlog of improvements awaiting completion that Dounreay really was in a terrible state in 1998 when contractors accidentally severed the power supply to the facility, said Kevin Dunion, Director of Friends of the Earth. “That it took this incident to prompt such a detailed safety inspection raises questions about safety procedures currently in place at all the UK’s other nuclear facilities. Perhaps it is time to put these plants under the same scrutiny.”

Earlier this week, UKAEA also published its site restoration plan for Dounreay, which outlines how it intends to restore the environment of the site in a safe and secure, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective way.

Decontamination of the site has resulted in an increase in business and jobs in the area, a UKAEA spokesman explained to edie, with 2000 people currently being employed at the Dounreay site, 1000 of whom are contractors.

“We warmly welcome the announcement as it is Dounreay’s opportunity to break with its polluting past,” said Dunion. “However, we will be watching carefully the forthcoming announcement on what will be done with the 25 tonnes of radioactive spent fuel siting on the site. It would be a tragedy if today’s good news was undone by any DTI announcement to restart reprocessing.”

the UKAEA also confirmed to edie that over a hundred radioactive particles have been found by divers during their annual summer three-month survey and clean-up of the sea-bed off Dounreay, the hangover from the accidental discharge of the particles in the 1960s.

Public enquiries should be directed to the HSE at: Information Centre, Nuclear Safety Directorate, HSE, St Peters House, Balliol Road, Bootle L20 3LZ, telephone 0151 951 4103, fax 0151 951 4004, email [email protected]. SEPA Public Affairs can be contacted by telephoning 01786 457723/4, or by writing to SEPA Head Office, Erskine Court, Castle Business Park, Stirling FK9 4TR.

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