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Nuclear Energy: Plutonium and Uranium Stocks

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The department will be placing the figures for the United Kingdom’s stocks of civil plutonium and uranium as at 31 December 2006 in the Libraries of both Houses. In accordance with our commitment under the Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium, we will also send the figures to the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who will circulate them to member states. The figures will be available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the IAEA websites.

The figures show that stocks of unirradiated plutonium in the UK totalled 106.9 tonnes at the end of 2006. Changes from the corresponding figures for 2005 are a consequence of continuing reprocessing operations (eg as reflected in the increased quantity of “unirradiated separated plutonium in product stores at reprocessing plants”). High enriched uranium (HEU) stocks decreased mainly as a result of down-blending material recovered during decommissioning of the UK’s gas diffusion enrichment plant. The increase in the civil depleted, natural and low enriched uranium figures reflects the increased stocks at the UK enrichment plant at Capenhurst.

Appendix

United Kingdom—Annual Figures for Holdings of Civil Unirradiated Plutonium

National Totals

As of 31 December 2006 (previous year’s figures in brackets). Rounded to 100 kilograms plutonium with quantities less than 50 kilograms reported as such.

Tonnes

Tonnes

1. Unirradiated separated plutonium in product stores at reprocessing plants.

102.9

(101.1)

2. Unirradiated separated plutonium in the course of manufacture or fabrication and plutonium contained in unirradiated semi-fabricated or unfinished products at fuel or other fabricating plants or elsewhere.

1.2

(1.2)

3. Plutonium contained in unirradiated MOX fuel or other fabricated products at reactor sites or elsewhere.

1.9

(2.0)

4. Unirradiated separated plutonium held elsewhere.

1.0

(1.0)

Total

106.9

(105.2)

Note

(i) Plutonium included in lines 1 to 4 above belonging to foreign bodies.

26.5

(26.5)

(ii) Plutonium in any of the forms in lines 1 to 4 above held in locations in other countries and therefore not included above.

0.9

(0.9)

(iii) Plutonium included in lines 1 to 4 above that is in international shipment prior to its arrival in the recipient state.

0

(0)

Estimated Amounts of Plutonium Contained in Spent Civil Reactor Fuel

National Totals

As of 31 December 2006 (previous year’s figures in brackets). Rounded to 1,000 kilograms plutonium with quantities less than 500 kilograms reported as such.

1. Plutonium contained in spent fuel at civil reactor sites.

6

(7)

2. Plutonium contained in spent fuel at reprocessing plants.

28

(27)

3. Plutonium contained in spent fuel held elsewhere.

Less than 500 kilograms

(Less than 500 kilograms)

Note

(i) The treatment of material sent for direct disposal will need further consideration when specific plans for direct disposal have taken concrete form.

Definitions

Line 1: covers estimated amounts of plutonium contained in fuel discharged from civil reactors.

Line 2: covers estimated amounts of plutonium contained in fuel received at reprocessing plants but not yet reprocessed.

United Kingdom—Annual Figures For Holdings of Civil High Enriched Uranium (HEU)

National Totals

As of 31 December 2006 (previous year’s figures in brackets).

1. HEU stored at enrichment plants.

0 kilogram

(0 kilogram)

2. HEU at fabricating plants or at other reprocessing facilities.

350 kilograms

(395 kilograms)

3. HEU at civil reactor sites.

0 kilogram

(0 kilogram)

4. HEU at locations other than civil reactor sites, enrichment fabricating and reprocessing plants (eg laboratories, research centres).

948 kilograms

(953 kilograms)

5. Irradiated HEU at civil reactor sites.

10 kilograms

(10 kilograms)

6. Irradiated HEU at locations other than civil reactor sites.

132 kilograms

(132 kilograms)

Total

1,441 kilograms

(1,490 kilograms)

The definition of high enriched uranium (HEU) is uranium enriched to 20 per cent or more in uranium 235.

Annual figures for holdings of civil depleted, natural and low enriched uranium (DNLEU) in the civil nuclear fuel cycle: 93,000 tonnes (86,400 tonnes).

# To nearest 100 tonnes.