On 1 August 2013 the NDA announced that we had shared with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) the conclusions of the work we have recently undertaken regarding the management of the separated plutonium stocks in the UK.
This work consisted of:
- an updated assessment of the Government’s preferred option, which is the implementation of reuse of plutonium as MOX fuel
- consideration of the credibility of alternative reuse proposals, for which the NDA has engaged GE-Hitachi and Candu to provide further information regarding their PRISM and Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) reactor proposals respectively
- an outline of what further work is required including developing our approach to Justification
NDA has published a Position Paper on the progress on approaches to the management of separated plutonium, which summarises the conclusions of the work that we shared with DECC.
DECC and other Government departments wished to consider the issue in detail and establish what the next steps should be.
In summary, this work has resulted in NDA concluding that reuse remains the preferred option and, based on the information provided and against our definitions, there are three credible reuse options: – reuse as MOX in light water reactors, reuse in CANDU EC6 reactors and reuse in PRISM fast reactors. We note all the technologies being considered have pros and cons and that no “perfect” solution exists. It may be that a multi-track approach offers best value for money.
All options require further understanding to be developed regarding technical uncertainties and to support this we intend to undertake technical studies over the next 1-2 years with the technology suppliers to establish a consistent level of understanding of risks and uncertainties for each option. This does not mean that the level of risk for each of the options will be the same after this work. At this time we are seeing technology vendors leading development of the proposals and NDA will work with suppliers to better understand the commercial implementation options.
Further progress will be reported in due course.