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Nuclear Waste (Reprocessing)

Volume 972: debated on Monday 29 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the Government's view on the return to the country of origin of foreign nuclear waste which has been reprocessed in Great Britain.

The Government, endorsing a requirement introduced by the previous Administration in 1976, has agreed that BNFL should, in negotiating new processing contracts with overseas utilities, ensure that these contain an option enabling BNFL to return the highly active waste remaining after reprocessing to the customer. This option also has to be supported by an intergovernmental exchange of notes in which the customer Government agrees to facilitate this option. Copies of notes already exchanged have been placed in the library of the House.BNFL has some reprocessing contracts which do not contain such an option because they were concluded before the Government introduced this requirement. The waste from these contracts will therefore remain in the United Kingdom. However, the amount of waste involved is small in comparison to that arising from the United Kingdom civil nuclear programme and its relative significance in terms of quantity will reduce over time.