British Energy wants to stop N-fuel reprocessing
Author: Matthew Jones
"British Energy is calling for an immediate moratorium on the reprocessing of AGR (Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor) fuel. It is uneconomic and adds to the stockpile of plutonium," a company spokesman told Reuters.
British Energy wants the spent uranium fuel to be stored instead of sending it to state-owned British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) for reprocessing at a cost of 300 million pounds a year under contracts set up prior to British Energy's privatisation in 1996.
British Energy argues that storing the spent uranium, a policy favoured by some experts, would not only save it about 250 million pounds a year but also stop the growth of Britain's stockpile of plutonium which results from reprocessing.
British Energy's submission will raise fresh questions about the viability of BNFL which generates around 50 percent of its revenue from reprocessing - the extraction of plutonium from spent uranium fuel rods.
The government says it still intends a partial sell-off of BNFL although no dates have been set.
The first attempt to privatise BNFL was shelved in 2000 following a scandal over falsified nuclear fuel data.
British Energy, which has capacity to supply about 20 percent of the UK's electricity, made the submission to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
The committee is conducting a review of Britain's radioactive waste policy.
A Parliamentary select committee in 1999 recommended burying radioactive waste in deep underground vaults after a 250 million pound project to do just that failed in 1997 when planning permission from a local council was denied.