Jacobs to assist in one of world’s deepest nuclear cleanup missions

March 5, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL) has awarded a six-year contract worth an estimated $10.4 million to engineering company Jacobs to lead an integrated design management team for one of the world’s deepest nuclear cleanups. The team will help in coordinating the program to clear and treat radioactive waste in the shaft and silo at Dounreay, near Thurso, in Scotland, U.K., a former fast reactor research and development center.

The Dounreay shaft extends 214.5 feet below ground and measures 15 feet wide in places, while the silo is a large underground vault with a concrete roof. Both were used for disposal of intermediate-level radioactive waste in the 1960s and 1970s, but now the solid waste and liquid effluent they contain needs to be retrieved and repackaged for removal to a safe, modern storage facility.

DSRL, the site decommissioning company, has tasked Jacobs with leading design integration ahead of the start of construction work. The company will also assist with the management of design and build work packages and offer design support during construction and commissioning. In announcing the contract on March 4, Jacobs said that it will subcontract with Berkshire Engineering, which is based near Dounreay, to assist with test and trials work.

Site plans: According to DSRL, the Jacobs contract forms part of a series of contracts to be awarded through the site’s decommissioning framework and heralds the beginning of work on the shaft and silo. In September 2020, Nuvia and its partner Graham Construction were awarded a contract, also for about $10.4 million, for “advanced transition works” at the cleanup site. DSRL added that there are likely to be further major contracts awarded over the next 12 months.

“The shaft and silo contain legacy wastes that must be emptied, and the waste repackaged for long-term storage, before the site can be closed. These contracts are one step closer to the cleanup of these historical waste stores,” said DSRL program delivery director David Hubbard.

The legends: According to a BBC News report, colorful myths surround the shaft and silo, including claims that a former worker dropped his mother-in-law’s ashes inside to comply with her wish to be scattered somewhere unusual. It has also been said that an unwanted car was dumped in the shaft.

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