How To Dismantle A Nuclear Power Station

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20150107

60 years ago, Dounreay Power Plant in Caithness crackled into life. Now decommissioned, Radio 4 looks at what it takes to dismantle a nuclear power station.

Poised on a cliff-top in the far northeast of Scotland, Dounreay's nuclear power plant looks like something from The Twilight Zone. A castle once marked this spot. Now a sprawl of industrial units form the base of an extensive and complicated operation - Dounreay's dismantling.

The ethical and environmental arguments for and against nuclear power are extensive, but what of the practical side of things?

In this programme, Radio 4 takes a very practical and pragmatic approach to the nuclear debate. As Dounreay reaches the halfway mark through it's 20-year dismantling process, this 'how to' guide tells you how it's done. This is process in real terms - the nuts and bolts of the operation.

While Dounreay hasn't provided power for two decades, it provides 3000 local people with jobs. They'll be kept busy for some time to come. The dismantling process will take at least another 20 years, after which this sleeping giant will be carefully watched and monitored for a further three centuries until the site can be officially be deemed 'safe'. This task will be undertaken by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority at a predicted cost of GBP2.9 billion. And it's not just Dounreay. Calder Hall and Windscale in Cumbria are also being wound down, so it's a really critical time to explore this issue. What on earth is everyone actually doing? Listen to this programme to find out.