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UK nuclear regulator issues Improvement Notice to Dounreay after October fire

19 December 2014

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has served Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) with an Improvement Notice as a result of a fire at the sodium tank farm of the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) at its Caithness site in October 2014. No personnel were injured as a result of the fire which broke out in the early hours of the morning on 7 October 2014.

Dounreay - Stock image
Dounreay - Stock image

DSRL said trace amounts of tritium had been released but did not pose a risk to the public, and a full report has been made to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which regulates radioactive discharges to the environment.

The fire was one of several incidents on site in the last few years, with similar contributory causes, and ONR has been working with DSRL to encourage improvements. However, ONR said the latest incident demonstrates that these initiatives have not been effective.

DSRL Managing Director Mark Rouse said: "Our investigation identified unacceptable behaviours and practices that fell well short of our values and standards. It is important to take the time to ensure as many lessons are learned from this incident as possible.

"We are determined to improve our behaviours and compliance to ensure that we always meet the high standards expected on a nuclear site."

ONR Deputy Chief Inspector Richard Savage said: “The incident revealed several concerns, notably a poor compliance culture and unacceptable behaviours of personnel on site. We are looking for evidence of improvements to effective planning; control and monitoring that will prevent future incidents occurring, and protect the public during the decommissioning of the plant.”

DSRL are now required to make appropriate improvements to preventative and protective measures for the decommissioning of the sodium tank farm of PFR by 30 June 2015.

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