Staff from Dounreay travelled to the USA to learn from the decommissioning and regeneration experiences of American nuclear decommissioning.
Senior managers and union representatives visited Idaho and Hanford and were given a first hand account of the issues faced by both plants in planning the rundown of their programme and the economic issues surrounding it.
Brad Smith, CH2MHILL, who is seconded to DSRL as site project manager, hosted the trip so that managers could see the progress made on decommissioning and waste management issues. Union members attended to explore regeneration issues.
"CH2MHILL has experience of managing site closure programmes elsewhere and we want to share that experience with our colleagues at Dounreay," explained Brad.
"It is one of the ways that CH2MHILL can add value to the work of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and the site closure programme here. I wanted Dounreay as well as the northern Highlands to use as much of our experience as possible. This should help increase the probability for a positive outcome in decommissioning and community regeneration programmes by taking lessons learnt from both successful and failed initiatives at other sites. This is the beginning of a journey that now has a tangible network in place for future contacts at Idaho and Hanford."
Alex Anderson, waste services unit manager, said: "It was an extremely useful trip. A lot of what is happening in Idaho and Hanford is very similar to the waste issues we have at Dounreay. While there was plenty of information and advice for us to consider it was also pleasing to see there was a lot of similarities in what we are doing already. Equally important are the contacts that we made and we will be maintaining these contacts to ensure that we can continue to learn from each other’s experiences."
David Alexander, representing the unions, added: "This trip was very interesting and informative. Idaho is very like Caithness and Sutherland where the site has been the mainstay of the community for years.
"The work carried out to ensure all the agencies responsible for regeneration pull together and how the sites supports this is something that we are now beginning to see here. When we arrived at Hanford we were shown round the HAMMER training facility, initially set up to service the health and safety training requirements for Hanford and which has expanded over the past 10 years into non-nuclear related training activities.
"While both sites are much more advanced in their decommissioning programmes it was interesting to note that many of the discussions covered were actually ongoing here already."