Letter: Hazards of Britain's plutonium stockpile

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The Independent Online
Sir: While Greenpeace welcomes the closure of the fast breeder reactor at Dounreay ('Dread of unlimited power fades to black', 28 March), we believe that the true irony surrounding the end of this particular part of the nuclear industry dream deserves more overt consideration.

It is ironic that Dounreay - symbolising the industry vision of using plutonium as a fuel - will close forever in the same week that the new Thorp plant at Sellafield - conceived for the specific purpose of separating plutonium for Dounreay and other fast breeders - begins operation.

Dounreay's closure means that there is now no use for the 36 tons of UK plutonium already stockpiled at Sellafield, nor for the plutonium that will be separated by Thorp. This plutonium stockpile constitutes nothing more than a severe environmental and security hazard and a drain on financial resources not just now, but for many thousands of years to come.

This predicament serves to highlight the confusion and obfuscation that has always surrounded government policy towards the different strands of the nuclear industry in the UK. The forthcoming nuclear review should consider the industry as a whole, to try to prevent such a ridiculous and potentially deadly situation ever arising again.

Yours faithfully,


Nuclear Campaign

Greenpeace UK

London, N1

30 March

(Photograph omitted)