Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the company spearheading the decommissioning project, said they had been asked to carry out additional work by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
And it meant that a phased reduction in the workface, due to be begin in about five years’ time, had been pushed back.
A spokeswoman for DSRL said: “Management at Dounreay are facing the challenge of how to accommodate additional work from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) whilst maintaining the same annual spend, the same Interim End State – and most importantly, the same priority on working safely and securely that the site is renowned for.
“The additional work has arisen because activities that were not sufficiently developed by the NDA at the time the competition was run in 2012 have now reached a state of maturity that allows them to be added to the existing programme of work.”
Mark Rouse, the Dounreay managing director, stressed that the situation had not arisen because of issues with the delivery of the current contract. He continued: “We should stress that the NDA have not cut our budget, and indeed have been able to increase our budget for this current year by £10million to help the situation.
“The fact is that the schedule of work is currently front end loaded – and so is the additional work, and that means some re-sequencing is necessary. Some of the early work which could always have been done later had we chosen to do so will now be moved to free up time and funds to complete the additional tasks.”
He added: “One thing that is clear already is that this additional work will mean the run-down in numbers that we have been forecasting to start in five top six years will move out by a number of years, which is good news,.”
A DSRL spokesman explained: “Staff are being kept informed of progress through weekly bulletins, and trade unions, the site’s regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, are also being regularly briefed.”
Mr Rouse said: “We understand that changes of this nature cause concern because of the temporary uncertainty they introduce. We have stressed to all those working at Dounreay that during this period they must maintain their focus on the safety of the work that they do – and that the management team continue to support them in this.”