Sellafield plutonium stores under the spotlight



A consultation into how the UK manages its plutonium stores housed at Sellafield has been launched.
The UK’s civil plutonium is housed in safe and secure facilities at Sellafield and Dounreay pending a final decision on the best long-term solution for its management.


Last night, the Department for Energy and Climate change set out three options for the UK’s plutonium. The consultation will consider whether to reuse the plutonium as fuel which would see the material contributing to fuel stocks for new or existing reactors and ultimately being disposed of as spent fuel.
The second option is packaging it securely and disposing of it in a future underground repository, or thirdly to keep the current status quo.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “This consultation is now a few years overdue – it has been postponed several times – but I’m very pleased to finally see the consultation taking place.
“Sellafield holds virtually all of the UK’s plutonium stockpile. This would cost billions of pounds to dispose of it was categorised as a ‘waste’ and such a move would be met by widespread opposition – particularly in west Cumbria.

“Instead of wasting this extremely valuable resource and costing the taxpayer billions without any discernible benefit, the most obvious and beneficial use for the plutonium is to turn it into fuel which can then be used to power new nuclear reactors.”

The government say there are no plans on how the UK’s plutonium should be managed in the long-term.
Lord Marland of Odstock, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “It is high time that we got to grips with this and developed a coherent and comprehensive plan for dealing with the issue.

“We are keen to assess all the options for affordability, deliverability, value for money, safety and security.”

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