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Nuclear Energy: Magnox

Volume 684: debated on Friday 14 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the proposed disposal route for Magnox fuel can splitter fins presently stored in vaults at the Magnox sites; and what transport methods are proposed.[HL6841]

Magnesium oxide fuel element debris (FED), created when uranium fuel was separated from the Magnox cans in order to ship the uranium to Sellafield for reprocessing, is stored in bunkers and vaults at some Magnox sites.

For all sites other than Dungeness A in Kent, the current disposal route is to recover the material, place it into specially designed steel containers, encapsulate it in a grout/cement matrix and store the containers in engineered stores on each site until a long-term waste management facility becomes available.

At Dungeness A the FED is being recovered and the soluble magnesium oxide dissolved with carbonic acid and discharged from the site via an Environment Agency authorised discharge route. Radioactivity is retained in sludges in the processing unit, and ion exchange resins and abatement filters in the discharge line. These are disposed of along with other sludges, resins and filters that are present on the site, by encapsulation and storage until a long-term waste management facility becomes available.

Any transportation of encapsulated waste—including FED—would have to satisfy the relevant transportation regulations and requirements.