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Spent nuclear fuel could raise £10bn

Sir David King’s report into spent nuclear fuel management suggests the UK could raise up to £10bn by building facilities to reprocess waste generated by reactors and re-use in the new nuclear sector.

The report - A low carbon nuclear future: Economic assessment of nuclear materials and spent nuclear fuel management in the UK - by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) has concluded that through adopting a new holistic approach to nuclear energy that would tackle concerns over security of energy supply, rising oil prices and safety issues.

The report explores possible future scenarios to accelerate the delivery of a safe, holistic and long-term strategy for current and future nuclear material and spent fuel management. It assesses likely costs, risks, safety and potential returns to the UK taxpayer and the wider economy, and looks at options for existing and new facilities at Sellafield.

“Currently the UK has a window of opportunity to deal with its nuclear material and spent fuel management and to maximise the value of its existing assets,” said SSEE director professor Sir David King.

“The renaissance in new nuclear build creates an advantageous way of using these legacy materials as fuel for new nuclear power plants. Despite the terrible events in Japan, the economic, safety and carbon case for a new build programme in the UK has never been stronger.”

Separated plutonium, uranium, current spent AGR fuel and waste generated by future reactors must be tackled. The UK needs to choose to follow strategies that treat these as a resource for recycling into new fuel, with considerable economic benefits for the UK and particularly for West Cumbria. The UK’s nuclear clean-up missions have not kept up with new nuclear build plans and need to be reviewed.

“The terrible events in Japan are a horrific reminder of why safety has to be the number one concern when it comes to nuclear energy,” said Confederation of British Industry deputy director-general Neil Bentley.

“Nuclear is the safest form of energy,” added King.

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