Dounreay’s supply chain has been urged to challenge established ways of working and come up with more innovative ways to decommission the site for less cost to the taxpayer.
More than 100 delegates attending a suppliers day event in Thurso, Caithness, today heard that new ways of working had reduced the latest lifetime plan for site closure by around £300 million and seven years.
But more innovation was needed if the site was to deliver targets set by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for annual efficiency gains of at least three per cent a year.
Simon Middlemas, managing director of NDA clean-up contractor Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, said they were looking to deliver the programme for £8 million less this financial year.
He was confident more efficient ways of working could be found – but ruled out doing anything differently that jeopardised the site’s improved safety performance or threatened compliance with environmental and security regulations.
About 70-80 per cent of the site’s annual spend is with the supply chain.
Last year, the site delivered efficiency savings of seven per cent on its annual programme and brought forward a new long-range plan with a revised completion date of 2025.
Site programme manager Alastair Macdonald said it was recognised that demands for money from the 19 nuclear clean-up sites in the UK exceeded the money available from central Government.
“Our aim is to make it easier for the NDA to continue to fund the high-hazard work at Dounreay by continuing to deliver a high level of performance,” he said. “Anything that harms that – be it poor performance, poor safety or poor environmental or security compliance – harms us all.
“We are looking to you, the supply chain, to help us maintain that level of performance, to challenge us and to help us deliver more innovative and efficient ways of working. If we can achieve that together then we are successful together. If we cannot then we all fail.”
The conference heard the site was keen to develop a more strategic approach to the supply chain to ensure it was sustainable beyond the closure of the site.
Under the latest programme put forward by the site, spending and employment levels are expected to remain high until the middle of the next decade or so, but decline more rapidly until 2025 when only a few tens of people will be needed to look after the site.
“All of the people working at Dounreay will be in the supply chain in due course, so it is in all our interests that we make the transition through site closure in a way that is sustainable for the supply chain in particular and the area in general,” he said.