The country’s oldest nuclear reactor is to be razed to the ground in the next three years.
The UK Government announced yesterday it had issued the contract for the UK’s oldest nuclear reactor to be razed, with the demolition contract awarded to Cavendish Nuclear.
Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR) was the first operational nuclear reactor in Scotland and achieved criticality in 1958. It was built to test the effects of radiation on different materials and operated for 11 years.
Local councillor Raymond Bremner said that the award of the multi-million pound contract was a stark reminder that jobs on the site “would not be there forever”.
There are more than 2,000 people employed at the site.
Mr Bremner said: “With the decommissioning of the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) it will bring home to the community that the plant is being run down.
“There has been much discussion about the loss of the golf ball at Dounreay, as it has attracted tourists to come and see it, but its loss signals something much more – the jobs will not be there forever.
“It is good to see the contract awarded and I understand there will be local contractors working alongside the main contractor.
“We hope that work will be done in the area to help the workforce diversify and help them to secure new careers in the area. “
Alan Cumming, the director of operations at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said: “The Dounreay site, and the surrounding communities, have made an incredible contribution to the advancement of the UK’s nuclear industry for several decades.
“The start of the work to demolish Dounreay Materials Test Reactor represents a significant step in our mission to decommission and clean-up the legacy from the very earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry.
“The 3-year contract has now been awarded to Cavendish Nuclear and its partners, local firm JGC Engineering, KDC and Frazer-Nash Consultancy, for the dismantling of the reactor block and demolition of the structure.
“This is the culmination of a decade-long project to remove the internal structures from the reactor and its support buildings.
Cavendish Nuclear and its partners have pledged to source materials and services from local sub-contractors as part of its commitment to the socio-economic development of Dounreay’s supply chain and wider Caithness community.