The nuclear safety watchdog’s critical report on Dounreay exclusively re-ported in The Engineer last month proved far more damning than expected when it was suddenly published this week.
The memorandum from a Nuclear Installations Inspectorate site inspector last summer accused the Dounreay management of failing to rectify known engineering deficiencies in the plant’s fuel-cycle area, having wholly inadequate ‘or absent’ waste management strategies, and losing the ability to make vital safety assessments.
On the last count, the inspector wrote: ‘Under the above circumstances, it is difficult to see, with regard to criticality [accidental nuclear reaction] assessments how the UKAEA is still meeting its licensee’s duty of maintaining control.’
A catalogue of waste management failings included irradiated fuel stored in a plant operated under a care-and-maintenance regime by a contractor.
The NII published the report after the Commons’ Industry Select Committee asked for its release. The NII said commercial confidentiality was no longer an issue with the announcement that commercial reprocessing would halt at Dounreay.
Dounreay row, page 8