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Nuclear Waste

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) when the vitrification plant for the solidification of high-level radioactive waste, presently under construction at British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield, will be completed and commissioned; and if he will make a statement;(2) when the store for receipt of the sealed canisters of vitrified high-level radioactive waste at British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield, will be completed and commissioned; and if he will make a statement.

I understand from British Nuclear Fuels plc that the vitrification plant will be completed during June this year and that commissioning is expected by January 1991. The vitrified product store has already been completed and commissioning is expected by October 1990.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the neutron and alpha/beta/gamma components of surface radiation dose equivalent rates, in milliSieverts per hour, for vitrified high-level waste containers for both Magnox and light water reactor/ advanced gas-cooled reactor oxide fuels; and if he will make a statement.

I understand from British Nuclear Fuels plc that the vitrified waste will be produced and stored in stainless steel welded containers and the process carried out remotely behind concrete shielding. Average dose rates in areas to which the operators have access will be approximately 0ยท001 milliSieverts per hour.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the approximate overall dimensions, capacity and design features of an approved single vitrified high-level radioactive waste capsule or canister.

I understand from British Nuclear Fuels plc that each vitrified high-level radioactive waste container is approximately 134 cm high and 43 cm in diameter and weighs approximately 75 kg. Its volumetric capacity is approximately 170 litres and each canister holds approximately 400 kg of vitrified waste.These canisters are made from stainless steel and designed for easy lid placement and welding when full, for safe and reliable handling, and for the ability to withstand stresses arising during filling, handling and storage. The safety case for the on-site storage of these canisters has to be agreed by the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate before the plant can be operated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give an estimate of the anticipated volume of high-level radioactive waste to be returned to customers overseas after reprocessing by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.; and if he will make a statement.

I understand from British Nuclear Fuels plc that the latest estimate of high-level radioactive waste to be returned to overseas customers following reprocessing under contracts with return of waste options is 300 cu m.