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Yorkon assembles Dounreay's modular laboratory

5 Sep 12 Britain’s newest laboratory for the analysis of radioactive materials has just arrived on site at Dounreay in Scotland.

The project is also the first nuclear facility of its kind to be built using modular construction, and one of the most complex and remote modular building projects ever undertaken in the UK, according to the contractor, Yorkon.

The 35 steel-framed modules were built off-site by Yorkon and have now been craned into position.

Using a large Terex Demag telescopic crane (pictured below), it took Hugh Simpson (Contractors) just four days to lift all the modules into place, significantly reducing disruption to operations at Dounreay.  The units were pre-installed with partitions, fume cupboards, windows and office areas to minimise work on site.

The contract for the £9m building was awarded by site clean-up contractor, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), to a team led by off-site specialist and main contractor, Yorkon, part of the Portakabin Group.

The off-site approach is reducing the programme time for the building envelope by around 50%, Yorkon says.  Construction of the 1,300sqm building is scheduled for completion in spring 2013, when it will be handed over to the client to commence active commissioning.  It is due to receive its first samples for testing in 2014, subject to regulatory approvals.

The scheme will provide six laboratories to allow DSRL to comply with its statutory and environmental monitoring requirements, and will remain in use for up to 25 years until the site decommissioning programme has been completed.  The building will then be taken apart for re-use elsewhere.

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DSRL project manager Iain Lyall said: “I am pleased to report the building installation phase went extremely well and was on schedule. It was meticulously planned, very professional throughout, and the whole site team worked really well together.

“The off-site solution enabled an almost overnight transformation of the site. This is a substantial building which was installed and ready for the final stages of fitting out in just four days. Speed of programme is important so we can have the building up and running as soon as possible, but it is also critical to get the quality right and to achieve best value.  We are delighted with Yorkon’s approach and performance to date, and look forward to the building’s completion.”

The Dounreay laboratory project will accommodate 36 fume cupboards, glove boxes and a specialised nuclear ventilation system with heavier, more complex ductwork compared to other applications of modular construction.  It will also incorporate acid and non-acid fume extraction, HEPA filtration, and a discharge stack, and each laboratory will have one-hour fire containment to the entire building fabric – another first for the modular industry, Yorkon says.

Yorkon’s partners in the Dounreay project are Studsvik for the nuclear ventilation design; JGC Engineering & Technical Services, who are manufacturing and installing the nuclear ventilation system and M&E services; and S&B UK for the fume cupboards and laboratory equipment.

The building will have to withstand the rigours of a highly exposed marine environment, and it has been designed in full compliance with stringent nuclear industry requirements and regulations for ionising radiation.  Its facilities include the laboratories, offices, drench showers and boot barrier in the active area, with ancillary accommodation for offices and locker rooms in the clean area. 

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