TV viewers look inside historic plutonium cell
November 20, 2008
Fifty years ago, it was the hub of plutonium research in the UK. Today, all that remains is a shell of a building awaiting demolition.
Television viewers were given a glimpse inside one of Dounreay’s most historic facilities when a BBC film crew entered the building known as the D8550.
Known as the PUMA cell – an acronym for plutonium moderated assembly – it was one of three such test centres built and operated at Dounreay in the 1950s so that scientists could gather data about the behaviour of plutonium and uranium solutions.
They had been denied the findings of similar research carried out in the USA by the McMahon Act, which prohibited Americans from sharing nuclear secrets.
The results of the Dounreay tests were used across the development of the nuclear industry in the UK.
Today, the only cell still standing is the PUMA cell.
Now, following a £7 million clean-out that took six years to complete, the stripped-out shell of the building is ready to be demolished.
Workers no longer need to wear protective equipment or clothing when they enter the building.
The latest visitors were a film crew from BBC TV Scotland. Their report from inside the PUMA cell can be viewed at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7736202.stm