Snow plough drivers from Dounreay have worked round the clock to keep open one of Britain’s most exposed stretches of main road during the severe weather.
The 10-mile stretch of the A836 between Reay and Thurso has remained open throughout the heavy snowfalls and plunging temperatures.
It’s the main road serving the former fast reactor research site, so it needs to be kept clear in case of an emergency during its decommissioning.
Site contractor Johnson Controls worked round the clock during the worst of the weather to keep the road open.
The 18-strong roads team has gone through over 500 tonnes of salt since the beginning of the cold snap at the end of November – three times their normal monthly amount in winter.
At its worst, two ploughs worked continuously through the night, battling blizzard conditions and plunging temperatures to keep the route open.
While the road between Dounreay and Thurso remained open throughout, roads further away from the site became treacherous and some workers could not reach Dounreay.
The site was closed to non-essential personnel on Friday and shift workers spent two nights in a hotel in Thurso at the weekend because travel to their homes near Wick was too dangerous.
Buses to and from the site have been disrupted.
The shift teams and snow plough drivers will continue to work throughout Christmas and New Year.
“These guys have worked through some awful weather to keep the site functioning and the roads open,” said Tony Wratten, deputy managing director of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, the company responsible for decommissioning the redundant nuclear plant. “It’s been a marvellous effort.”