ALBA: Dounreay’s deadly legacy

SNP predictions some years ago that Scotland could become a dumping ground for toxic radioactive waste from the UK nuclear reprocessing programme have been proven graphically correct with the news that 600 tonnes of waste from foreign countries is not to be returned to the countries of origin.

The deadly radioactive material was imported for reprocessing as part of a commercial drive by the operators of Dounreay, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) , however the reprocessing work was never completed. Now the untreated waste, mixed with concrete in a crude attempt to stablise it, will continue to be kept at the Caithness.

The AEA signed contracts worth tens of millions of pounds in the 1990s to reprocess the nuclear material, including spent fuel from France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

However, despite attempts by both the UK government and the AEA to return the waste to the countries of origin all the governments have refused to accept it. Instead it seems that quantities of treated nuclear waste from storage in England will be sent back instead.

The Celtic League have written to the HSE Nuclear Directorate to clarify the long term plans for storage and monitoring of the waste. (See below):

“Mike Weightman
HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations
and Director, Nuclear Directorate
4N.2 Redgrave Court
Merton Road
Bootle
L20 7HS

14/02/10

Dear Mr Weightman,

Ref: Dounreay – Unprocessed Nuclear Waste – Storage and Monitoring

I understand as part of a unfulfilled reprocessing contract the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority accepted several hundred tonnes of waste from foreign sources at their Dounreay facility in Northern Scotland. Due to the unwillingness of the countries from which it was sourced to have the waste returned in its current form it would seem that medium to long term storage at Dounreay may now be the only option.

Can you advise:

1)What quantity of unprocessed material from foreign sources is held?

2)The nature of the current storage regime and whether this would be classed as suitable in the medium to long term?

3)Given difficulties with managenent and operation at Dounreay in the past what system is in place for the storage of this waste to be monitored and is a recent report into the management of the waste publicly available?

4)What options for long term storage are currently under consideration?

Yours sincerely

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

Wikipedia link with info on Dounreay here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dounreay

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