During routine operation of the plant destroying the liquid metal coolant in the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR), drips of caustic liquor from pipework in a shielded cell were detected by the monitoring systems. The plant was immediately shut down and the leak isolated and stopped. There was no release of radioactivity to the environment and no harm to the workers.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority were all informed immediately the leak was isolated. Working with the Regulator ONR, DSRL will conduct an investigation into the reasons for this minor leak
DSRL’s reactors decommissioning manager Mike Brown said: “The pipework will be flushed out to lower the radiation levels before workers enter the cell to repair the area of pipe where the drips were seen. The amount of liquid released into the cell was extremely small and was contained in the cell. It posed no danger at any time to either staff or environment.”
DSRL has destroyed more than three quarters of the 57 tonnes of primary liquid metal coolant in DFR, and expects to complete the job by March 2012.