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AWE Aldermaston

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects a pre-construction safety report to be submitted to the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate on the planned construction of a uranium enrichment facility at AWE Aldermaston. (232377)

There are no plans to build a uranium enrichment facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). Nor has the process of uranium enrichment ever been undertaken at AWE Aldermaston.

AWE currently has the capability to store, cast, machine and recycle enriched uranium. These capabilities are required for the foreseeable future, not only for use in Trident warheads, but also for submarine reactor fuel. Operation of these facilities is licensed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. In order to provide this capability into the future, the best value for money option is to build a replacement uranium handling facility. The proposed replacement handling facility programme is in the assessment phase. If this handling facility proceeds to construction, the requisite safety reports will be submitted to meet regulatory requirements.