This paper describes the work covered and experience gained in the first two years of operation of DERC, a Centre for Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation in the Highlands of Scotland. The Centre is a unique development which was set up to teach nuclear decommissioning as a separate discipline, address the problem of a declining skills base in the field of nuclear technologies and to take advantage of the unique and exceptional innovative, technical and research opportunities offered through the decommissioning of Britain’s fast reactor site at Dounreay. The Centre is an offshoot from North Highland College which is a member of UHI, the University in embryo of the Highlands and Islands. The Centre currently supports ten PhD students completing various diverse projects mainly in the field of nuclear environmental remediation. In addition there are a number of full and part time MSc students who participate in NTEC (Nuclear Technology Education Consortium) a consortium of British Universities set up specifically to engender interest and skills in nuclear technology at postgraduate level. At undergraduate level, courses are offered in Nuclear Decommissioning and related subjects as part of Electrical and Mechanical degree courses. In addition to our relationship with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) the Dounreay site licensee, we have links with Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence who also share the Dounreay site and with other stakeholders such as, the UK regulator (HSE/NII), the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), local and international contractors and we liaise with the newly formed Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), who provide some sponsorship and support. We possess our own equipment and laboratories for taking and analysing soil samples and for conducting environmental surveys. Recently we commissioned an aerial survey of contamination in the locality from natural sources, other background levels such as Chernobyl fall out and any local activity from Dounreay.

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