DECC: The management of separated plutonium

16 December 2008

The Society has written to Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, urging the Government to develop and implement a strategy for the management of the UK's stockpile of separated plutonium as an integral part of its wider energy and radioactive waste polices.

The letter underlines the Royal Society's concerns that Government strategy as it stands is constrained by arbitrary administrative boundaries. The remit of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) does not extend to consideration of new nuclear power stations, yet burning plutonium in new nuclear power stations could  provide both a reuse and waste management strategy.

Plutonium considerations must also be included in discussions currently taking place regarding design of a geological repository for radioactive waste. A late decision to incorporate plutonium disposal at such a site could be very costly and difficult to accommodate.

Building on the Society's 2007 report, Strategy Options for the UK's Separated Plutonium, and its 2008 submission to the NDA's consultation on plutonium management, the letter highlights other plutonium management issues that need further consideration, including energy security and nuclear non-proliferation.

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