New reactors for Britain?

29 November 2000

The British Nuclear Industry Forum (BNIF) has said that Britain should build two reactors to burn its growing stockpile of surplus plutonium.

About a quarter of the world’s non-military plutonium – about 65t – is stored at Sellafield by BNFL. The stockpile comes from spent fuel from Britain’s reactors, and is expected to increase to 115t by 2015.

Bill Wilkinson, president of the BNIF, said that two new 1200MW reactors would take 25 years to convert 90t of plutonium into spent fuel, which cannot easily be used for weapons. Because the reactors would also generate power, he claims they would save over £1 billion compared with developing a technology to immobilise and dispose of the plutonium. BNFL, which is awaiting government approval for a plant to make plutonium fuel, is examining two reactor designs to convert plutonium.

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