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UK’s plutonium stockpile could be used in new subsidy to nuclear industry

This could easily end up as yet another black hole for taxpayers’ money. The use of the UK plutonium stockpile in reactors could be yet another subsidy for new nuclear.”

Mox proposal would pay nuclear firms to use recycled plutonium• French group Areva wants to build a Mox plant at Sellafield• Greenpeace fears ‘yet another subsidy for new nuclear’   Tim Webb guardian.co.uk, 7 February 2011  Areva submitted a proposal to the government to build a Mox plant at Sellafield.

Nuclear companies could be paid by the government to buy recycled nuclear fuel from a new taxpayer-funded plant, to reduce the country’s stockpile of plutonium.The government has proposed building a mixed oxide, or “Mox”, facility, which uses plutonium to make nuclear fuel, although it admitted the plan was not economic as this type of fuel is relatively expensive to produce.

However, it said that such a plant – which would cost an estimated £500m – was the best way to dispose safely of the UK’s stockpile of 112 tonnes of plutonium, built up over the past 50 years.

The Guardian has learnt that, at the end of 2009, the French reactor group Areva submitted a proposal to the government to build a Mox plant at Sellafield in Cumbria. An industry source involved said that, for the plan to be economically viable, a government subsidy would be needed to pay companies to buy the Mox fuel, which costs about £1m a tonne – a third more than conventional nuclear fuel. Modern reactors typically use about 1,000 tonnes of fuel over a 60-year lifetime, so an operator would have to be subsidised to the tune of about £250m to make buying Mox fuel economic.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace‘s chief scientist, said: “This could easily end up as yet another black hole for taxpayers’ money. The use of the UK plutonium stockpile in reactors could be yet another subsidy for new nuclear.”The Mox plant at Sellafield has produced 15 tonnes of fuel in nine years of operation, against an original target of 560 tonnes over 10 years. It is not expected to be able to convert the remaining plutonium stockpile before its scheduled closure. The small amount of fuel that has been produced has been shipped to Japan to be burned by reactors there….

Mox proposal would pay nuclear firms to use recycled plutonium | Environment | The Guardian

February 8, 2011 - Posted by | reprocessing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK

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