News story

Final shipment completes Dounreay historic fuel contract

The final shipment of foreign waste to Belgium has completed a fuel contract made between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and SCK/CEN of Belgium in the 1990s.

The historic contract was among those signed by UKAEA to reprocess spent test reactor fuel from abroad, following the closure of the fast reactor research programme.

The operators of BR2, which carries out materials research and produces isotopes for nuclear medicine, sent 240 spent fuel elements to Dounreay in the 1990s.

Under the contract between SCK/CEN and UKAEA, the then site operator, the fuel was dissolved and the re-usable uranium separated from the waste “fission products” and turned into new fuel. The higher activity liquid waste was conditioned and solidified in cement inside 500-litre stainless steel drums.

Part of the Dounreay site closure programme involves closing the historic contracts and returning the waste to the customers where feasible, under the return of waste clause in the reprocessing contracts.

DSRL worked hand in hand with SCK-CEN, the Belgian Authorities and the transport company Transnubel to establish the necessary arrangements and authorisations, and to demonstrate compliance with the stringent Belgian conditions of acceptance for the waste.

The 21st shipment in December completed the repatriation of the 123 drums of waste that began in August 2012.

Published 5 January 2015