Letter: Myths and reality of the plutonium trade

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Sir: How ironic that British Nuclear Fuel's Thorp plant could be extracting 'valuable' plutonium, while just next door BNFL's mixed oxide fuel (Mox) plant could be disposing of 'dangerous' plutonium ('Sellafield makes bid for Russian plutonium', 20 August).

The plutonium market is beginning to resemble the gold market, with its monopoly control and inflated prices based upon the myth of social and economic need.

It is not benevolence that encourages BNFL to offer to help solve the 'Russian problem' but the enticing prospect of guaranteed contracts and profits as well as being the biggest player in the plutonium business.

Mox will not eradicate the problem of nuclear proliferation, as claimed by the industry. A Government document estimated that for every 17kg of plutonium per tonne of Mox fuel loaded into a reactor, 20kg of plutonium would be created.

Furthermore, the only British reactor that might use Mox fuel is the yet-to-be commissioned Sizewell B pressurised water reactor. The nuclear industry intends to promote its enthusiasm for Mox as a means of encouraging the Government to commit itself to a PWR construction programme.

Yours sincerely,




22 August