February 1998 Editorial
Out of control
The United Kingdom is unique in that it produces massive quantities
of plutonium without any domestic use for it. No reactor in the UK has
a license nor is adapted to use plutonium fuel (MOX). If Sizewell-B,
the UK's only light water reactor, were to be converted to MOX use,
it would absorb hardly more than 150 kilos of plutonium per year. It
would take the reactor some 400 years to absorb the current stockpile
of about 60,000 kilos of separated plutonium in the UK. Reprocessing
of gas-graphite and advanced reactor fuel continues, although the technical
feasibility of dry storage was demonstrated years ago. Foreign light
water reactor fuel reprocessing is increasing steadily. When THORP started
up first at Sellafield in 1994, the plutonium stockpile in the UK was
already over 40,000 kilos. During 1997, the mountain grew by an unprecedented
Of course, there is no plan to introduce MOX into Sizewell-B nor into
any other reactor in the UK. And - as illustrated by the spectacular
evolution of the stockpile in the country - foreign clients are equally
unable to take home their share of this increasingly awkward and expensive
material to manage.
The United Kingdom is a Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) and has developed
its plutonium production capacity under the particular conditions linked
to a highly sensitive arms program: no transparency, no democratic debate,
and until recently virtually no formal public involvement in any decision
making process. That is history.
The current British plutonium policy lacks any identifiable rationale.
That is the present. What will be the future ?
to contents To
Want to print this report ? Download
the newsletter in the Pdf format ( 499 Ko ).