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Detail of outcome
The UK Government agrees with a proposal from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) that for some small quantities of remaining overseas origin spent fuels held in the UK, where it is not economic or not possible to reprocess them before reprocessing operations cease, that they should be allowed to manage these materials by an alternative option. This alternative option should be by means of interim storage pending disposal, taking ownership where necessary.
This decision will allow NDA to close out remaining overseas contracts in an efficient and timely way, since with the passage of time, the original facilities that would have dealt with these fuels have either closed or, without significant infrastructure investment, will soon reach the end of their useable life.
As part of the proposal, specifically to ensure that the UK does not become a net importer of nuclear waste, the NDA would enact “virtual reprocessing”. This would mean that a radiologically equivalent amount of waste would be allocated and then returned to the customer as if the irradiated fuel had been reprocessed.
This will not compromise safety. The fuels that will be stored will be managed alongside very similar fuels from the UK nuclear programme.
Detail of feedback received
Fourteen responses were received to the consultation. These came from a range of respondents including individual members of the public, companies involved in the energy industry, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), including local campaigning groups and local authorities. One organisation requested that its response was not published.
This consultation sets out proposals which would allow the NDA to manage by means of interim storage and disposal any small quantities of overseas origin oxide fuels that are either not economic to reprocess or cannot be reprocessed in THORP before it closes in 2018.
This approach would permit the NDA to close out the remaining overseas contracts in a cost-effective and timely way, providing more certainty over the future plans for THORP and for the future decommissioning of the Dounreay licensed site.