Dounreay nuclear clean-up experts to advise Japan

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The clean-up of radioactive particles from a seabed off Scotland’s north coast could help Japan deal with its earthquake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.

Tiny particles ended up being discharged into the sea at Caithness from Dounreay’s liquid discharge pipe in the 1960s and 70s.

The fragments contaminated local beaches and the seabed. Staff from the Scottish site have just travelled to Japan to offer advice on their clean-up effort.

Phil Cartwright, senior manager in charge of contaminated land clean-up at Dounreay, said lessons learned in Scotland could help Japan deal with radioactive contamination.

He said: “At Dounreay, we had a release of radioactive material beyond the site, increasing public anxiety in the late 1990s about the potential health effects and controls put in place to protect public health.”

A strategy was produced to deal with contamination, including efforts to detect and recover particles from the seabed near the site, he said.

Mr Cartwright added: “Japan is at the start of a much bigger clean-up project with significant challenges both on and off site but the issues they face are similar to those we had to work through, even though ours were on a much smaller and more localised scale. “

Dounreay has already donated equipment to Japan for use in dealing with the Fukushima Daiichi complex, damaged in last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

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