Hazardous work increases as incident rate falls

Hazardous work increases as incident rate falls

The acceleration of decommissioning at Dounreay is reflected in new statistics showing how much more of the site is being penetrated by clean-up teams.

The number of workers going into the most hazardous areas of the plant using specialist airline suits to protect them from radioactive material has increased 60-fold.

Many of these facilities had been sealed for decades and their increasing penetration by clean-up teams underlines the progress being made.

In 2005, the year the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority was set up, there was just 500 entries into redundant plant wearing airline suits. In the past 12 months, the number exceeded 30,000.

This increase in the number of workers going into the most hazardous parts of the site coincides with a five-fold drop in incidents over the same period.

Brad Smith, site project manager at DSRL, says the figures underline how attitudes and performance have changed at Dounreay.

“There are understandable concerns whenever production pressures increase that somehow safety will deteriorate,” he explained.

“What we’ve shown in the last three or four years is that the opposite can occur if you work really hard to develop the right sort of culture, responsibilities and sense of ownership by the people doing the work.

“At the same time as we’ve accelerated the pace of decommissioning, we’ve gone from being at the bottom of the NDA sites for safety to near the top.

“We know we still have a long way to go to fulfill our ambition of being the best site licence company in the UK. But everyone at Dounreay can take a great deal of pride in the progress we’ve made so far.”