Cause of Dounreay radioactive leak found – but it may happen again


The cause of the radioactive leak that hit the former nuclear plant in Dounreay has been traced to a small hole in a pipe.  An investigation had been launched after radioactive fluid was discovered leaking inside the treatment facility at the plant.

However, despite plugging the small hole in a pipe that runs from the plant’s fast breeder reactor, the site’s operators – Dounreay Site Restoration Limited – have refused to rule out further leaks.

The ageing nuclear power plant is currently undergoing a decommissioning process at a cost of £2.6 billion.


Recently it was revealed that a clean-up operation around the shore at Dounreay will not, as had been planned, remove all of the nuclear contamination.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency claimed that attempting a complete removal of radioactive contamination may in fact cause more environmental damage as soil and material would be disturbed.

Fragments of radioactive fuel were flushed into the sea around Dounreay through the plant’s discharge pipe in the 1970s.

In June this year radioactive material was discovered around the foreshore that tests confirmed posed a “significant human health risk”.