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Nuclear Waste

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, assuming that no fuel elements were reprocessed in the United Kingdom, what accumulated tonnage of untreated nuclear fuel elements would have to be stored; and on the basis of reprocessing, what tonnage of waste will have accumulated in the United Kingdom by 1991, taking into account all types of operating nuclear power plants.

Spent fuel currently stored under water in the United Kingdom will have to be reprocessed for safety reasons. Details on the volumes of raw wastes arising from reprocessing to the year 2029 were published in the eighth annual report of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee. This is available in the House Library. The relevant table is table 5, appendix F.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what was the total throughput of spent Magnox fuel, expressed in terms of uranium content, which was reprocessed at BNFL Sellafield in each year from 1979 to 1987, by financial year;(2) what was the total throughput of spent Magnox fuel, expressed in terms of uranium content, which was reprocessed at the Windscale reprocessing works in each financial year from 1963–64 to 1969–70;(3) what was the total throughput of spent Magnox fuel, expressed in terms of uranium content, which was reprocessed at the BNFL Sellafield in each of the financial years 1977–78 and 1978–79.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad) to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) on 11 December 1985 at columns 638–39, to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer) to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) on 1 February 1988 at columns 473—74, and the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) on 16 December 1987 at column 516.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, what is his estimate of the likely stockpiling of plutonium resulting from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from United Kingdom reactors over the next 10 years.

Production of plutonium from reprocessing of irradiated fuel from United Kingdom civil magnox reactors is expected to continue at a rate of 1·5 to 2 tonnes per year for the next 10 years. Reprocessing of irradiated fuel from United Kingdom AGR reactors, which is expected to commence in the 1990s is expected to produce up to 5 tonnes of plutonium over the next 10 years.