Government must consult openly on Plutonium management

The government must consult in an open and transparent manner on
proposals for the long term management of plutonium says NIS in response to a consultation paper on options for the long term management of plutonium.

NIS is urging the government not to preempt the results of consultation
by proposing a 'preferred option' for the future management of
plutonium. As a substantial amount of further research is still required
before the viability of any future option can be determined, there would
appear to be no objective grounds at this stage for developing a
preliminary view on the most suitable option, and NIS is sceptical of
the government's motives in wishing to do this.

NIS is concerned that the government wishes to advocate reprocessing of
plutonium for use as nuclear reactor fuel as its preferred option for
dealing with the UK's stocks of the metal. Given the dismal performance
of the Sellafield Mox plant, which was commissioned to undertake such
work, NIS believes this would be a disastrous step.

Peter Burt, NIS Project Director said: “The only real long term option
for dealing with this most dangerous of materials is to treat it as a
waste and place it beyond any further use.

“The principal use for plutonium is in building nuclear weapons, and the
100 tonnes of this substance that the UK has produced over the past 60
years are a dangerous liability.

“As a first step we must immediately stop producing any more plutonium
and, although the process for dealing with existing stocks will be long,
difficult, and expensive, we must begin work now to find a safe and
permanent disposal option for our plutonium legacy.”

Read NIS's full response to the DECC discussion paper attached below.


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