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Brexit will mean that Britain will be stuck with Europe’s nuclear waste

Brussels plans to saddle UK with EU nuclear waste  Britain’s impending split from Euratom indicative of complexity of Brexit, by: Arthur Beesley in Brussels and Andrew Ward in London, 4 May 17  Britain will be on the hook for large volumes of dangerous radioactive waste — some of it imported from the rest of Europe — under proposals by Brussels to transfer ownership of a range of nuclear materials to the UK after it leaves the EU.

Almost 130 tonnes of plutonium stored at Sellafield in Cumbria is among the nuclear material that would formally shift to UK control, according to draft documents issued by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. All “special fissile material” — forms of uranium and plutonium used in nuclear fuels and some of the resulting waste — within the EU are technically owned by Euratom, the pan-European regulator of civilian nuclear activity.
Mr Barnier’s provisional negotiating position calls for a Brexit agreement to “ensure, where appropriate, the transfer to the United Kingdom” ownership of “special fissile material” currently controlled by Euratom within the UK. Such an agreement would make the UK legally responsible not only for its own nuclear material but also reprocessed spent fuel imported over several decades from Germany, Sweden and elsewhere for recycling at Sellafield. “What was a joint European legacy now becomes a UK home brew, with potentially dire economic consequences for the UK given the sheer expense and weight of this radiological inventory,” said Paul Dorfman, honorary senior researcher at the Energy Institute at University College London……..
Mr Barnier’s proposal for the UK to assume “all rights and obligations associated with the ownership of [fissile] materials or property transferred” is seen in Brussels as a necessary housekeeping exercise to remove Euratom’s claim on nuclear fuel used in UK power stations as well as uranium isotopes used in radiotherapy. But it highlighted the uncertainty facing Britain’s nuclear industry — responsible for about a fifth of domestic electricity generation — in the run-up to Brexit. Euratom is a separate legal entity to the EU but is governed by EU institutions and the UK government says it has no option but to leave both at the same time. A UK government spokeswoman said: “Leaving Euratom is a result of the decision to leave the EU as they are uniquely legally joined.”
As well as nuclear fuel and reprocessed waste, the UK would also take ownership of Euratom property used to safeguard the material, such as inspection and monitoring equipment, according to the EU proposals. The negotiation directives, which are subject to the agreement of the 27 remaining member states, were published on Wednesday as Mr Barnier set out his hardline opening position for talks with London…….

May 5, 2017 - Posted by | politics international, UK, wastes

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