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Fast Breeder Reactors

Volume 76: debated on Monday 1 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement about progress on the European collaborative project for the development of fast breeder reactors.

We are continuing to make good progress.

In view of the expectation that both France and Germany will build commercial fast breeder reactors before this country does, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that we have a fair share of the research and development work on this collaborative programme and that we build on the expertise accumulated over the years at Dounreay? In particular, are the Government pressing for the location at Dounreay of a fuel reprocessing plant?

The participating organisations have already signed several of the agreements setting the detailed framework of the collaboration, and other agreements are being negotiated. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the United Kingdom is already in the forefront of fast reactor technology and has made a major contribution to the collaboration, in particular through the work at Dounreay. No decisions have yet been taken on the timing or siting of a commercial demonstration fast reactor for the collaboration. My right hon. Friend will make an announcement on reprocessing in due course.

Does the discussion with the Europeans include collaboration on the decommissioning of nuclear power stations, which is a most expensive business? It might be helpful to reduce costs if there were such collaboration with other countries.