UK seeks co. to clean up Dounreay nuclear waste
EDINBURGH - The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority said yesterday it had started looking for companies to clean up a nuclear waste dump at its controversial Dounreay reprocessing plant on the northern coast of Scotland.
A UKAEA spokesman told Reuters around 700 cubic metres of intermediate-level nuclear waste had to be removed from a waste shaft and silo at the site.
It would then be stored at Dounreay until the government decided where it should be stored permanently, he said.
"The shaft and silo were only ever a temporary deposit for the waste, and so it had to be moved. Where it is to be stored permanently is part of the governments national nuclear waste strategy," the spokesman said.
He estimated the clean-up job would take around 20 years to complete and cost between 215 and 355 million pounds.
At its peak, it would create an extra 400 jobs at the site, which already employs around 2,000 staff on one of the remotest stretches of the Scottish coastline.
Dounreay was at the cutting edge of nuclear technology when built in the 1950s.
But mounting health and safety criticism and a catalogue of errors which included using household polyfilla and plaster of paris to solidify liquid waste helped prompt the government in June 1998 to shut down commercial reprocessing operations on economic grounds.
Earlier this month, a radioactive particle turned up on a public beach near Dounreay, although the Scottish Envrionmental Protection Agency (SEPA) said it did not warrant closing of the beach.
Similar particles have been found on the private foreshore of plant at the rate of one around a month since 1983.
Story by Ed Cropley
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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