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Dounreay sets out options for 'exotics' nuclear material

Spent nuclear fuel from Dounreay’s fast reactor breeders could be transported to Sellafield in Cumbria for treatment, according to plans outlined by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) this week.

The materials currently stored at Dounreay in Scotland include unirradiated plutonium and high enriched uranium bearing fuels, which are termed by Dounreay as “exotics”.

The Energy Act (2004) requires the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to have a strategy to safely and securely manage exotics in the most practical and cost effective way. Modern facilities are either under construction or planned at Sellafield but investment will soon be required to maintain the storage capability at Dounreay, which the organisation said meant now was a good time to consider the management options for this material.

It is still an option to retain the material and treat it at Dounreay. Transporting the fuel to Sellafield will take between 30 to 60 train journeys during a six year period beginning in 2014/15 while treating the material on site will mean the construction of suitable facilities, which would take between eight an 10 years to build.

The NDA said that all the Dounreay exotics were not considered waste and are instead potentially all recyclable. The NDA is expected to make a decision on its preferred option in March.

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