August 2000

Official British nuclear waste advisors warn over reprocessing and plutonium stockpiling in UK

[Posted 19/08/1999]

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 Committee’s recommendation that the Government should develop and declare a clear policy for the management of the UK’s 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 Government’s 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

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