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Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the Atomic Energy Authority's investigation into the nuclear material accountancy discrepancy at Dounreay.

I have now received the report from AEA Technology into the nuclear material accountancy discrepancy at Dounreay. The investigation by the Atomic Energy Authority has confirmed the preliminary view that the discrepancy has not involved safety or environmental hazards and that there are no grounds for believing that security procedures were deficient, or that any diversion of material has occurred.A re-assessment of the discrepancy has reduced the earlier reported "Material-Unaccounted-For" (MUF) of 11 kg U-235 (10.2 kg U-235 in high enriched uranium and 1.1 kg U-235 in low enriched uranium) to approximately 3 kg total U-235. The new figure takes into account the discharge of liquid waste containing uranium, and the re-assessment of solid waste and other materials. A more refined measurement was also made of the hold-up of uranium in the plant.The report identifies a number of areas where it will be necessary to improve management procedures, accountancy, and record keeping. The Atomic Energy Authority has accepted all the recommendations made in the investigation report and has taken action to implement them. I have asked my officials to monitor implementation of the report's recommendations by the Atomic Energy Authority.