Dounreay is closing down.

Redundant facilities are being cleaned out and demolished, yielding large quantities of radioactive material that need to be managed safely.

Much of this material cannot be re-used and is being treated at Dounreay as radioactive waste for long-term storage or disposal.

Some of the material is nuclear fuel and could be used again, to generate electricity or to support the production of isotopes for nuclear medicine.

A small amount belonged to foreign operators and has been returned to them in recent years.

The rest of the fuel and re-usable material belongs to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It has no facilities at Dounreay to re-use or recycle this fuel, so the NDA published a series of consultation papers setting out the options for managing this fuel, culminating in a decision to return it to national stockpiles.

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd started to remove the NDA's nuclear fuel and material in 2012 and expects this work to continue until the early 2020s.

This section contains more information about our transport arrangements and the requirements we must comply with to ensure the safety and security of all nuclear cargo.

Dounreay recognises that the transport of radioactive material by air, sea and land raises issues of public interest about safety, security and environmental protection.

If you have concerns or questions about the removal of radioactive material from Dounreay during its closure, we're very happy to discuss these with you. We can provide more information (subject to constraints on security) and arrange to meet individuals or groups to listen to their views.

The standards governing the transport of nuclear material are set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

These standards are the basis for legislation and regulation drawn up by national governments. In the UK, the Department of Transport is the competent authority. Regulation in the UK is consolidated in the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Our arrangements for the transport of this material must comply with the national legislation and our plans are subject to rigorous independent regulation designed to ensure the public and environment are protected from harm at all times.

Each year, there are some 10 million movements of radioactive material worldwide. The nuclear industry accounts for about 5 per cent of these.

Transport has played an important part in the story of Dounreay, bringing nuclear materials to and from the site during four decades of research and development.

Today, as the site closes down, those materials are leaving for the last time, signalling the end of nuclear transports in the Highlands of Scotland.

Radioactive Materials at Dounreay - Download the DSRL leaflet

Quick Facts on the Transport of Nuclear Fuel - Download the World Nuclear Transport Institute leaflet


Detailed information about the routes and timings of nuclear material cannot be published,  in accordance with the requirements of national security, as set out in Finding a Balance, guidance published by the UK nuclear security regulator on the sensitivity of nuclear and related information and its disclosure.



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Image: If you have worries about the transport of nuclear material from Dounreay during its closure, please get in touch with us so we can listen to your concern and see what we can do to help.

If you have worries about the transport of nuclear material from Dounreay during its closure, please get in touch by clicking here so we can listen to your concern and see what we can do to help.