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Revealed - the 1950s plutonium experiment behind latest clean-up success

January 07, 2009

Workers dismantle one of the criticality rigs

The fascinating story behind one of Dounreay's most remarkable decommissioning projects is revealed today.

It has taken a clean-up team eight years and 20,000 entries wearing protective breathing equipment to clear away the legacy of a little-known research programme from the 1950s.

For six years, at the height of the Cold War, miniature reactors and rigs provided Britain’s leading scientists and engineers with valuable data about the safety of plants for the production of uranium and plutonium.

Now, more than 40 years after the door was closed on their research, Britain's experimental criticality laboratory has been decommissioned.

As a demolition team prepares to pull down what now remains, read here for the first time the fascinating full story behind one of Dounreay’s most remarkable projects.

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