Dounreay’s experience of cleaning up and decommissioning is being shared with Japan where the country’s nuclear industry faces challenges on a much bigger scale.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority invited the site, together with representatives of other clean-up projects in the UK, to take part in a series of workshops in Tokyo to share Britain’s knowledge and expertise in nuclear decommissioning.
The workshops were attended by senior figures from the Japanese companies and organisations dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Phil Cartwright, the senior manager in charge of contaminated land clean-up at Dounreay, was one of several representatives from site licence companies in the UK.
Much of his time at Dounreay over the past decade has been spent developing and implementing a strategy for theparticles problem.
“At Dounreay, we had a release historically of radioactive material beyond the site boundary, increasing public anxiety in the late 1990s about the potential health effects, and controls put in place to protect public health,” he explained.
“The site was in a difficult place then. It took time, a lot of effort and a change in our behaviour about how we engaged with people affected by the release.
“What emerged was a clean-up strategy that a wide range of stakeholders felt able to support and we’re now well into the delivery phase of that strategy.
“We learned a lot of lessons during that period.
“Japan is at the start of a much bigger clean-up project with significant challenges both on and off site but the issues they face are similar to those we had to work through, even though ours were on a much smaller and more localised scale. They were very interested in our experience."
The three-day event in Tokyo was part of an initiative by Britain’s overseas trade mission to build on a Japan-UK framework on civil nuclear cooperation signed recently by Prime Minister David Cameron.
It’s not the first time Dounreay has helped Japan respond to Fukushima. In the days immediately after the disaster, Dounreay was one of several UK sites that donated spare equipment to help emergency teams trying to contain the reactor meltdowns.