In December 2011 the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its response to the consultation on plutonium management.
The consultation response indicated that Government’s preferred option was to reuse the plutonium as MOX fuel, but that we would be open to consider alternative options that offered better value to the UK taxpayer.
In addition Government said that overseas owners of plutonium stored in the UK could have that plutonium managed in line with UK plutonium, subject to commercial terms that are acceptable to the UK Government. In addition, subject to compliance with intergovernmental agreements and acceptable commercial arrangements, the UK is prepared to take ownership of overseas plutonium stored in the UK as a result of which it would be treated in the same way as UK-owned plutonium. The Government consider that there are advantages to having national control over more of the civil plutonium in the UK, as this gives us greater influence over how we ultimately manage it.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has agreed to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA):
Taking ownership of about 800 kg of material previously owned by a Swedish utility.
Taking ownership of about 140 kg of material previously owned by a German research organisation.
These transactions, which have been agreed by the Euratom supply agency, will not result in any new plutonium being brought into the UK and will not therefore increase the overall amount of plutonium in the UK.
We have agreed to these transactions as they offer a cost-effective and beneficial arrangement, which removes the need to transport separated plutonium, allows the UK to gain national control over more of the civil plutonium in the UK and enables an outstanding contract with a Swedish utility to be concluded.
In line with the DECC policy statement, the NDA continues to engage with other third parties regarding taking ownership of further overseas plutonium in the UK arising from overseas reprocessing contracts. As well as UK Government approval, these transactions will require consent from the relevant overseas Governments and regulatory bodies, and thereafter Euratom supply agency agreement, before any contracts are enacted.
The UK has committed to publish annual figures for national holdings of civil plutonium at the end of each calendar year to improve transparency and public confidence. The most recent data can be found at: http://www.onr.org.uk/safeguards/civilplut13.htm
This data will be updated in due course to reflect the changes described above.