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Sunday, February 15, 2004

DTI slips out nuclear consultation
The following extract comes from a newsletter produced by Globe UK, an all-party sustainable development group based in the UK's Houses of Parliament, and outlines how the UK's Department for Trade and Industry plans to change the way that the UK's nuclear waste is disposed of, and to establish Nuclear Decommissioning Authority...

"On the day that saw the news dominated by the Hutton Report, the DTI released a consultation paper on proposals for dealing with intermediate level nuclear waste (ILW).

The DTI commissioned consultants NAC International to undertake an independent study to assess the environmental case for implementing ILW substitution on existing BNFL reprocessing contracts now, rather than waiting until there is greater certainty on the long term management strategy for ILW.

The proposals will mean disposal of all overseas ILW in the UK, whilst sending back additional high level waste (HLW) - HLW that otherwise would be disposed in the UK. The amount of extra HLW sent back would be equivalent on environmental grounds but smaller in volume than the equivalent ILW. The report says the amount of extra ILW will be equivalent to four detached houses, but is not clear about the exact amount of HLW which will be sent back in return.

The report says the motivation for substitution is that (subject to there being no significant environmental detriment to the UK) it would be a more efficient way of discharging the requirement to return wastes. It would also mean fewer international waste shipments ending sooner (from approximately 225 to 38) and a net income that the Department of Trade and Industry has stated would be allocated to the activities of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the net present value of which would exceed £200m.

Based on views expressed in consultation with the FCO, the report states that it was unlikely that the public would perceive the difference between international ILW and HLW shipments and so it anticipates that a smaller number of international HLW shipments would be more beneficial for international relations than a larger number of ILW shipments. In terms of inland transportation, the proposals would mean 3 less HLW and 162 more ILW inland transports over the next 50 years.

The deadline for consultation is 30th April 2004

For further details see www.dti.gov.uk/nuclearcleanup