British nuclear waste advisors warn over reprocessing and plutonium
stockpiling in UK
This is an extract from a report, Response to The
House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology Report on
the Management of Nuclear Waste, issued in August 1999 by the Radioactive
Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC). It makes some important
points, never made so strongly before by this influential committee.
Management of Plutonium
The RWMAC supports the Select Committees recommendation that
the Government should develop and declare a clear policy for the management
of the UKs stock of separated plutonium. It agrees that there
can only be a limited use for the stock in the foreseeable future and
that the remainder of the plutonium should be declared a waste unless
a credible reason for doing otherwise can be given. This would, of course,
have implications for the way in which spent nuclear fuel is handled
within the UK and the case for its reprocessing.
It is certainly true that a management of plutonium from past and committed
actions represents a significant problem. However, the waste implications
of future activities, such as reprocessing, must also be fully considered.
Debate and resolution of these issues should be undertaken alongside
the process of developing policy for the management of currently declared
wastes. In particular, work will need to be put in hand to identify
options for dealing with the separated plutonium if it is to be ultimately
declared as waste, and its possible implications for wider radioactive
waste management policy. A start on this issue has been made as part
of the Governments High Level Waste and Spent Fuel Disposal Research
Strategy Project. "
Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee
Zone4/E4 Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street London SW1E 6DE
Telephone: +44-171-890 6260/6254
Facsimile: +44-171-890 6319
Secretary: Dr Robert L. Jackson