Work is underway on the next phase of a major clean-up project unique in the history of the nuclear industry.
Contractors have started to prepare the ground where a major new plant will be built to retrieve radioactive waste from an underground shaft and silo.
Dounreay is spending almost £6 million between now and 2012 on this phase, which is known as the “D3200 ground enabling works”.
This involves removing redundant services and rerouting others, laying drains, installing electricity connections and excavating the ground in preparation for construction.
A major piece of the work involves rerouting part of the site’s low-active drain that runs beneath the site and excavating the redundant sections.
Other work will involve the demolition of an electrical sub-station and a filtration plant used to decontaminate water in the silo.
Subject to planning other and other consents, construction of the new plant is due to begin in 2013 and take five years to complete.
Intermediate-level waste has never been retrieved before from a vertical shaft filled with groundwater.
Dounreay plans to send robotic grab equipment into the 65-metre deep shaft and also the nearby intermediate-level waste silo.
Waste recovered from each facility will be checked, sorted and packaged inside heavily-shielded cells in a plant at the surface.