Dounreay is the most northerly and remote of the UK’s nuclear sites. It is located on the coast above the stormy North Atlantic Ocean, looking directly at the North Pole. Temperatures are low most of the year, rain frequent, and wind almost constant.
Yet in these inhospitable surrounds, one of the most technically challenging nuclear decommissioning projects is currently underway. A few metres from the shoreline is a 60m-deep shaft, built during the construction of Dounreay, but now filled with nuclear waste and contaminated water. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), which runs the site, has the unenviable job of sealing off the shaft to prevent further water leaking in and removing the contents.