The UK Atomic Energy Authority entered into contracts with a number of foreign customers when it operated the site and these required the waste to be sent back no later than 25 years after recovery of the fuel.
With the fuel already returned to customers, attention is now focused on returning the waste.
One of the customers asked the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which inherited the contracts from the UK Atomic Energy Authority, for their waste to be returned in a glass form instead of the standard cement form produced at Dounreay.
Waste is produced in glass form at another NDA site, so NDA sought the agreement of the UK and Scottish governments to permit “waste substitution”. This would allow waste in a different form, of equivalent radioactivity, to be sent while meeting the national “return of waste” obligations.
The Scottish Government today announced it accepted waste substitution in principle.
INS, a subsidiary of the NDA, is responsible for negotiations to close out these historic contracts and ensure compliance with government requirements about the return of waste.
Foreign-owned waste accounts for 2-3 per cent of the higher activity waste at Dounreay.
The planned return of waste to Belgium in a cement form is unaffected by today’s announcement.
Scottish Government – Having considered all the responses and taken all the comments into consideration Government has concluded that a waste substitution policy for radioactive waste arising from overseas research reactor fuel reprocessing contracts is an acceptable practice that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) can adopt to deal with historic Dounreay contracts.