Japan learns from Dounreay clean-up


THE experience of cleaning up and decommissioning a nuclear plant in Scotland is being shared with Japan.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority invited a team from the Dounreay site in Caithness to join representatives from other clean-up projects in the UK for a series of workshops in Tokyo to share expertise in nuclear decommissioning.
The industry in Japan faces challenges on a much bigger scale and the workshops were attended by senior figures from the companies and organisations dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Phil Cartwright, senior manager in charge of contaminated land clean-up at Dounreay, was one of several experts from site licence companies in the UK. Much of his time at the site over the past decade has been spent developing and implementing a strategy for the particles problem.
“At Dounreay, we had a release historically of radioactive material beyond the site boundary, increasing public anxiety in the late 1990s about the potential health effects, and controls put in place to protect public health,” he explained. “The site was in a difficult place then. It took time, a lot of effort and a change in our behaviour about how we engaged with people affected by the release.
“What emerged was a clean-up strategy that a wide range of stakeholders felt able to support and we’re now well into the delivery phase of that strategy. We learned a lot of lessons during that period.”
Japan is at the start of a much bigger clean-up project with significant challenges on and off site but the issues are similar to those experienced at Dounreay.
The three-day event in Tokyo was part of a drive by Britain’s overseas trade mission to build on a Japan-UK framework on civil nuclear cooperation signed recently by Prime Minister David Cameron.
It’s not the first time Dounreay has helped Japan respond to Fukushima. In the days immediately after the disaster, experts from the Caithness site arranged for donated spare equipment to be shipped to help emergency teams trying to contain the reactor meltdowns.

Image: The site at Dounreay.