NDA proposes management Dounreay exotic material at Sellafield

8 February 2012

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has published a study that looks at the credible options for managing remaining nuclear material at the Dounreay site in Scotland. It has concluded that a number of advantages, including significant cost savings, could be made if the material is moved to Sellafield.

The remaining material, referred to as ‘exotics,’ include unirradiated plutonium and high-enriched uranium bearing fuels. These materials are currently stored securely at the Dounreay site, however in around 10-15 years the storage facilities will need to be replaced. New facilities typically take 8-10 years to design, build and commission, which makes it timely to consider management options.

NDA identifies two options for management of the material: either management on-site at Dounreay or transport to the Sellafield site (approximately 300 miles away) in Cumbria, England for management.

The latter option would require in the region of 30-60 transports from Dounreay to Sellafield during a six-year period, probably commencing around 2014/15. At Sellafield there are a range of modern facilities in existence, under construction or being planned capable of receiving these materials and the necessary workforce skills to properly manage them.

“Analysis of the credible options shows that the option to transport the exotics from Dounreay to Sellafield offers many advantages,” NDA said.

The principle benefit from moving materials from Dounreay would be the reduction in security classification of the Dounreay site, according to NDA.

NDA also said that overall infrastructure and security savings are expected to be in the order of hundreds of millions of pounds.

NDA hopes to engage with regulators and other stakeholders before a strategic decision is made in March or April 2012. It is accepting comments on its paper ‘Exotic Fuels and Nuclear Materials: Dounreay - Credible Options February 2012’ via email until 23 March 2012.

Back in the summer of 2011, NDA published a paper discussing the options for management of DFR breeder material stored at Dounreay. The NDA concluded that there was a ‘clear and compelling’ case for that material to be managed with spent Magnox fuel at Sellafield rather than immobilized at the Scottish site.

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