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£70 Billion cost of Cleaning Up at Dounreay

The cost of dredging the seabed to remove radioactive particles from Dounreay nuclear power station could be £70bn. Norman Harrison, Director at the C aithness Plant, admitted for the first time there was nothing the UK Atomic Energy Authority – which runs the plant – could do to recover all radioactive particles which had escaped in the past 40 years. A proposal to dredge completely the area of sediment most contaminated by the particles would cost almost 30 times what the public purse is expected to pay to decommission the plant. Mr Harrison was speaking at the opening in Thurso of a public exhibition on the particles problem, which is being dealt with as part of the £2.6bn decommissioning of Dounreay – expected to be completed by 2036. The exhibition is the first step in a process of public consultation which will end with the UKAEA making recommendations to government on how best to proceed with the particles which were discharged in the 1960s and 1970s, during milling operations to remove aluminium cladding from nuclear fuel. About 1200 particles have been recovered from the foreshore and seabed off Dounreay, and other local beaches, but there are thought to be at least several hundred thousand others in the marine environment around the north of Scotland. The 21 options being considered by the authority range from doing nothing to the bulk removal of all contaminated marine sediment by dredging. The particles would then be removed and the sediment returned to the seabed. However, the cost of the dredging option would be prohibitive, said Dr Frank Dennis, UKAEA\'s environmental projects manager, who added: \"To do this we would need a large number of dredgers and because we have such a large area of seabed to cover we could not guarantee we would identify and remove all the particles. It would be almost physically impossible, but we have to look at all the options.\" Lorraine Mann, of Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping and Dounreay\'s most outspoken critic, said last night: \"Until the UKAEA can prove categorically that these particles are not coming from the Dounreay shaft, it is not possible to say what the best course is. But what we can say is that it is an absurdity that UKAEA should be making any recommendations at all. It is the polluter. It is not up to the polluter to decide what is too expensive.\"