Government hopes to convert waste plutonium to fuel

The Government is hoping to recycle civil plutonium as fuel as it looks at dealing with increased volumes as the UK increases its nuclear capacity.

With British energy strategies increasingly linked to nuclear power new strategies for dealing with plutonium are being drawn up.

The UK’s civil plutonium is currently stored at Sellafield and Dounreay while the consultation looks at options including leaving it at those two sites.

In a paper released today (February 7) the Government sets out its options and also puts forward the idea of ‘immobilising’ and dumping the plutonium in another area.

The consultation, which can be viewed here, states the Government’s preferred option is for reuse as MOX (mixed oxide) fuel option.

MOX fuel fabrication is, according to Lord Marland of Odstock the parliamentary under-secretary of state for energy and climate change, a ‘proven’ and ‘available technology’ that offers ‘greater certainty of success.’

Lord Marland also argues the costs of managing plutonium by this route are similar to the estimated costs of direct disposal of it as a waste.

Lord Marland said: “There are currently no final plans for how the UK’s plutonium should be managed in the long-term.

“It is high time 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.”

The consultation is open until May 10.

Luke Walsh

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