Letter: Ill-spent funds on spent fuels

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Kurti (Letters, 12 October) suggests that the process of extracting plutonium and unburnt uranium from spent nuclear fuel is properly called 'recycling', because it makes the material of spent nuclear fuel reusable. In fact, this could only be called recycling if the material actually was re-used. In practice it isn't. Plutonium is added to an alarmingly large stockpile and the extracted uranium is contaminated and uncompetitive.

The only thing really recycled by British Nuclear Fuels is money. Electricity consumers pay subsidies of more than pounds 1bn per year to Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear. They in turn pay grossly inflated sums to BNFL for reprocessing nuclear waste. These then emerge as 'profits' in BNFL's books. Perhaps we should be glad that BNFL is also extracting money from hapless foreigners trapped in binding contracts signed in an era when plutonium was still thought to be useful. But given the cost in nuclear waste, radioactive discharges and spread of plutonium, there is nothing to celebrate.

Yours sincerely,

MARCUS BIRSEL

London, W14

12 October

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