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Energy: Nuclear Waste

Volume 713: debated on Wednesday 21 October 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish their finalised proposals for the management of spent nuclear fuel. [HL5526]

The Energy Act 2008 requires operators of new nuclear power stations to have a funded decommissioning programme, approved by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, in place before construction of a new nuclear power station begins and to comply with this programme thereafter.

The funded decommissioning programme prepared by the operator of a new nuclear power station must include details of the operator's plans for the management of their spent fuel.

In February 2008 the Government published the Consultation on Funded Decommissioning Programme Guidance for New Nuclear Power Stations. In this consultation the Government set out a base case, a means by which waste may be managed and disposed of and decommissioning carried out that will be costed by or on behalf of the Secretary of State. This included a number of assumptions in relation to the management and disposal of spent fuel.

Operators of new nuclear power stations will be expected to have regard to the base case when developing the programme they will submit to the Government, but there will be flexibility to allow operators to propose other effective ways of dealing with decommissioning and waste management if they choose to do so. Operators' funded decommissioning programmes will be considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering whether to approve an operator's programme, the Secretary of State will have regard to whether it achieves the overall outcome of ensuring a prudent means for carrying out and estimating the costs of waste management, disposal and decommissioning.

It is anticipated that an updated base case will be included in the final funded decommissioning programme guidance, which is expected to be published in spring 2010.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to launch the formal public consultation on proposals for a fixed unit price for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. [HL5527]

It is anticipated that the consultation on a draft methodology for establishing an indicative fixed unit price for the disposal of intermediate level waste and spent fuel from new nuclear power stations will be launched before the end of 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how long those planning to build new nuclear reactors will have before they must accept the fixed unit price proposed for the disposal by them of spent nuclear fuel. [HL5528]

The Energy Act 2008 requires operators of new nuclear power stations to have a funded decommissioning programme, approved by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, in place before construction of a new nuclear power station begins and to comply with this programme thereafter.

It is anticipated that operators will request that the Government provide them with a fixed unit price at the time they seek approval for their funded decommissioning programme. This will occur alongside the regulators' licensing and permitting processes. To help future operators with their planning, the Government would expect to give operators a non-binding indicative price at an earlier date than when the Government would be willing to provide them with a final fixed unit price.

The Government would expect to enter into an agreement with the operator, once the fixed unit price for the waste disposal service, the schedule for the Government to take title to and liability for the waste and spent fuel and a schedule of payments have been set. This agreement would cover issues such as the abort or termination costs that would be payable by the operator if it later chose not to use the Government waste disposal service.