Delivering the safe clean-up and demolition of the UK's former centre of fast reactor research on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Waste

Waste is the product of decommissioning.

The clean-out and demolition of Britain’s fast reactor experiment generates significant quantities - from conventional rubbish through to hazardous industrial materials such as asbestos and chemical waste, and different types of radioactive waste in gaseous, liquid and solid states.

Waste minimisation is very important, both environmentally and financially. Some of the waste, such as paper, rubble and metal, can be recycled. But other waste may be hazardous or have no practical further use.

The waste services team at Dounreay plays a vital role in support of the decommissioning programme.

Some wastes are quite simple to manage and there are well-established routes open for their disposal. But other types of waste may not have a disposal route or treatment in place yet, so safe storage is needed meantime.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency regulates waste disposal. For radioactive waste, the site is bound by the terms of an Authorisation granted by SEPA. This regulates the types and quantities of radioactive waste that can be disposed of. Compliance with the Authorisation is essential.

The key policy principles in how waste is managed at Dounreay can be summarised as:
• Protection of the public, workforce and environment
• Keeping radiological doses and environmental impact as low as reasonably achievable
• Converting wastes into a passively safe state as soon as practicable
• Minimising discharges through the use of best practicable means
• Strategic planning
• Application of the waste hierarchy
• Consideration of best practicable environmental option/best practicable means in the selection of waste management options
• Proximity principle
• Sustainable development
• Use of good practice guidance, such as the industry code of practice on clearance and exemption
• Application of SEPA waste strategy for non-radioactive wastes.

Site management is committed to managing radioactive waste at Dounreay in accordance with national policy and regulations designed to protect workers, the environment and the wider community from harm.

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Image: Hazardous radioactive waste is handled remotely, with workers protected from radiation by thick walls

Hazardous intermediate level solid radioactive waste is handled remotely, with workers protected from radiation by thick walls

Image: Typical low level radioactive waste

Typical low level radioactive waste

Image: Low level radioactive waste is stored in half-height ISO containers pending disposal

Low level radioactive waste is stored in half-height ISO containers pending disposal

Image: Radioactive waste accumulated inside remotely-operated cells and is now being cleaned up, sorted and packaged

Radioactive waste accumulated inside remotely-operated cells and is now being cleaned up, sorted and packaged

Image: Refuse is removed from site for disposal

Refuse is removed from site for disposal