Nuclear waste to burn at Sellafield?
Prism plant could burn UK's stockpile of plutonium waste
GE Hitachi is poised to hand nuclear authorities a report that the US-Japanese joint venture believes will prove that Britain can solve its 100-tonne plutonium waste problem by burning it.
The UK's stockpile is the biggest civil waste deposit in the world, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is responsible for cleaning it up, had planned to convert the plutonium into fuel for other reactors.
However, GE Hitachi will say in a feasibility study to be handed to the NDA in the next two weeks that its Prism fast-reactor design could eliminate the waste, with the bonus of producing low-carbon electricity. The group wants to build a plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, and has agreed to submit a study to the NDA, which has previously been sceptical over fast-reactor technology.
The NDA has previously favoured a second Mox plant at Sellafield, even though the first one closed after a series of failures that cost £1.34bn. This method turns plutonium waste into mixed oxide fuel that can be used in conventional, light-water reactors.
The NDA was worried that the technology was relatively unproven and would not be commercially viable for decades. This remains its stance, but it has agreed to assess GE Hitachi's plans after the group said that its technology was at a more advanced stage of development.
The company wants to build two plants at its own cost within 10 years at Sellafield, only charging the taxpayer for every kilogram of plutonium it burns. This method is more straightforward than Mox, though the plants could still cost billions of pounds.
"Prism's very clever stuff," said an industry expert. "The French have just announced that they're working on one and the Russians have announced that they're building one."
GE Hitachi is also in the race to buy Horizon, the venture that is looking to build new nuclear plants in Anglesey and Gloucestershire.
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Scores killed including seven primary school children as massive tornado causes widespread damage in Oklahoma
David Cameron offers review of civil partnerships as gay marriage Bill clears major hurdle
- 1 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
- 4 Be more professional! GCHQ staff rapped as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reveals messages that he says point to 'fit up'
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Busi...
£425 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Senior Finance Project Manager - £550 - Bristol -...
£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: KYC Analyst - London - Banking - £150-250/day C...
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Gove...