Plans to decommission the Dounreay nuclear plant are to be accelerated by 13 years.
Decommissioning plans for Dounreay have been moved forward
A new management team and a £313m clean-up programme mean the work will now be finished by 2047, according to the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).
The former experimental reactor site in Caithness is being decommissioned at an estimated total cost of £4bn.
The 140-acre facility opened in 1955 and manufactured its last batch of nuclear fuel earlier this week.
The details of the new work programme are contained in a new UKAEA plan submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its successor body, the proposed Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The plans are subject to relevant regulatory consents and include:
- The destruction of more than 1,000 tonnes of hazardous waste liquid metals used as coolant in the fast reactor
- The isolation of the waste shaft four years earlier than expected
- Accelerating the immobilisation of hazardous liquid waste left over from the reprocessing of research reactor fuel by two years to 2010
- A new plant to destroy active solvents and oils left over from reprocessing and reactor operations with on-site incineration
- Demolition of decommissioned test cells and other buildings.
Dounreay site director Norman Harrison said: "Nobody in western Europe has more experience of managing the safe decommissioning of nuclear sites than UKAEA.
"This is underlined by the commitments we have made to the Government to accelerate the decommissioning of Dounreay in a way that continues to be safe, secure and environmentally responsible."
He said the decommissioning of Dounreay has generated new business opportunities for companies in the local region, worth approximately £80m a year to the Highlands and responsible for a fifth of jobs in the immediate area.
He added: "With their help we can eliminate more of the hazards left over from Dounreay's operational days.
"We can do it quicker and more cost-effectively without jeopardising our over-riding priorities of safety, security and environmental protection
"This is good news for the taxpayer, for the environment and for local contractors."
Dounreay was the UK centre for fast reactor research and development from 1955 until 1994 with three reactors, fuel processing and other facilities on site.
The NDA will take responsibility for the decommissioning of Dounreay from 1 April, 2005, taking over from the DTI's Liabilities Management Unit.