Nuclear submarines and naval test reactors in Scotland

17.1.3 Naval reactor test establishment (NRTE) Vulcan

Vulcan is situated in Caithness adjacent to the Dounreay site. The site is owned by the MoD on a long lease from the NDA and operated by Rolls Royce. Its purpose is to test nuclear submarine propulsion reactors on shore in support of the operating fleet.

Construction of the Dounreay Submarine Prototype 1 (DSMP1) was started in 1957 and the first reactor was operational in 1965. The facility tested a number of reactor cores until it was shut down in 1984. The facility includes a pond where fuel from the testing programme is stored.

A second facility, the shore test facility (STF) was commissioned in 1987 for a similar testing programme on the next generation of submarine reac­tors. It is planned to operate this facility until 2015 when it will no longer be required (UK Government, 2011) as a reactor core prototype plant. Associated with the STF is a pond where fuel from this testing programme is stored and a decontamination and waste treatment facility (DWTF) in which is stored activated organic resins from decontamination operations in the STF. Operational LLW from Vulcan is transferred to Dounreay for disposal and LLLE is transferred to the Dounreay LLLETP.

Post-operational activities and early decommissioning could start in 2015 and be completed by 2021. Options to continue support to the naval nuclear propulsion programme from the Vulcan site are being considered together with a decommissioning programme. Final decommissioning and demoli­tion could take up until 2050 to be completed. Some of this could be planned in and associated with the decommissioning programme at Doun — reay. The decommissioning waste volumes are small compared to Dounreay and could be incorporated into Dounreay’s management arrangements. The lifetime packaged volume of LLW to be disposed of at Dounreay is esti­mated to be around 3,600 m3. The lifetime packaged volume of ILW, possibly to be stored at Dounreay, is estimated to be around 156 m3 (NDA, 2011a). However, the Scottish HAW policy does not apply to Vulcan so the final end-point for this ILW may be different from that of Dounreay’s.

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