The Government is proposing to re-use existing plutonium stocks as a nuclear fuel. The UK's existing civil plutonium, created by past nuclear power generation, is housed at Sellafield and Dounreay pending a decision on what to do with it.
The Government consultation sets out three options: reusing the plutonium as fuel for new or existing reactors and then disposing of it as spent fuel, directly disposing of it as waste, or continuing to store it long-term. The Government is consulting on the view that the best solution is to reuse it as a fuel, under a process which costs around as much as directly disposing of it as waste.
Lord Marland, parliamentary under-secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “There are currently no final plans for how the UK's plutonium should be managed in the long term. “It is high time we got to grips with this and developed a coherent and comprehensive plan for dealing with the issue. “We are keen to assess all the options for affordability, deliverability, value for money, safety and security.”
Greenpeace criticised the proposals to reuse plutonium as a fuel, claiming past attempts to do so had been a “gargantuan failure” and a drain on taxpayers. The green group warned that using plutonium as fuel could create even more dangerous radioactive waste than normal and end up creating new subsidies for nuclear power.