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Radioactive Wastes: Waste Management

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what requirements there are for the return for long-term management or disposal of radioactively contaminated metals exported from decommissioning facilities at Sellafield to the Studsvik decontamination plant once processed; whether safety and security plans covering shipments from Sellafield to Studsvik have been approved by his Department; and what the costs are to (a) British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd and (b) the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority of the planned shipments of such material from Sellafield to Studsvik. (137664)

The return of radioactively contaminated metals exported from decommissioning facilities at BNG Sellafield to Studsvik Sweden must meet the requirements of regulators both in the UK and Sweden. Following treatment by smelting in Sweden, the metal is recycled through the Swedish metals industry. This might require the metal to be held at Studsvik Sweden for a period of ‘decay’ storage in order to achieve the recycling concentration criteria established by the Swedish environmental regulator and the European Commission. If the concentration of radioactivity in the metal is too high to achieve the recycling criteria within 10 years of ‘decay’ storage it will be returned to the UK for storage or disposal. If repatriation is required it will usually occur within two years of the smelting process. Radioactive waste materials separated out in the smelting process (for example in the slag) are separated and returned to the UK consignor for disposal, together with any other radioactive wastes produced.

These arrangements are contractual obligations and have been agreed between the Environment Agency and the Swedish regulator (SSI).

The costs of such shipments are a commercial matter for the NDA and BNG Sellafield.