Clever ideas are helping to improve ways of removing radioactive waste from some of Dounreay’s dirtiest plants.
The post-irradiation examination facility at Dounreay is one of these. Radioactivity levels in the cells are high and much of the waste is classed as intermediate level waste (ILW), making clean up a challenge.
Work in the plant has to be carried out either remotely, or by workers in airline suits.
The team responsible for the clean up recently came up with a clever way of size-reducing contaminated ventilation filters without exposing workers to a high dose of radioactivity.
The filters were too large to fit into a standard bin for disposal as ILW, and too big to load into a shielded cell to be remotely cut up.
An off-the-shelf industrial press was the answer. The filters were first packaged up to contain any loose contamination during the crushing process. Workers wearing airline suits and protected behind shielding walls then crushed them in the press. The picture shows workers trialling the process using clean filters.
Seven filters were successfully crushed and disposed of as ILW.
A number of other facilities on the site have now used the same process to dispose of their ventilation filters.