A team tasked with decommissioning a nuclear reactor came up with a simple, sticky solution when they needed to take samples from its core - Blu Tack

Workers at Dounreay near Thurso in Caithness needed to take samples of metal from holes drilled into the base of the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR).

They decided to attach some Blu Tack to the end of a long flexible rod, and insert it nearly 10 metres into the reactor core - saving the cost of developing a specialist tool for the job.

Samples of the metal stuck to the Blu Tack and were collected for analysis.

Calder Bain, a member of the PFR design team said: "We are 60 years on from the decision to build the Prototype Fast Reactor and innovation has been the key to its success.

"There is a continual requirement for inventive methods to dismantle a complex nuclear reactor."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "The ingenuity of those involved in cleaning up Dounreay's radioactive legacy certainly has to be praised.

"However, not all the challenges faced in dealing with the thousands of tonnes of waste the nuclear industry has left in its wake right across the country will be so easy to solve.

"It's just another reason why Scotland is right to be choosing an energy future based on clean renewables instead of hazardous and expensive new nuclear power."

Dounreay is one of Europe's largest nuclear clean-up and demolition projects.

Last year, the Sunday Herald broke the story about a plan to ship nuclear material from Dounreay to America.

The report said the plan was for nearly five kilograms of enriched uranium to be transported by sea from Caithness to the US Government's nuclear complex at Savannah River in South Carolina.

The material was said to have come from a research institute in Mtskheta, some six miles from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in a secretive US operation codenamed Auburn Endeavour in April 1998.

Washington was said to have been worried at the time that it could have fallen into the hands of Chechen gangs or Iran.

However, it later emerged that the proposed UK Government plan is to ship not five kilograms but 700kg of nuclear material.