NDA to spend billions stabilising plutonium canisters. The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report detailing the unstable condition of highly dangerous plutonium canisters at the Sellafield nuclear plant, said to be “decaying faster than anticipated”. The report, titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ warns that if these canisters were to leak it would prove an “intolerable risk” – a label defined by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as a situation where reducing the risk “becomes the overriding factor”, taking precedence over matters of cost and requiring immediate action. The NDA has refused to comment on the number of canisters affected, though it has said it is only a “small proportion” of their total number. The UK houses 40% of global civil plutonium, the majority of which is stored at the Sellafield site in Cumbria, itself overseen by the NDA. The substance is a by-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing and the site’s abundant stock has led the NDA to label Sellafield its most hazardous facility. The new report shows Sellafield, which opened in 2012, to have ‘unsuitable’ containers for storing plutonium. The NAO has proposed the canisters be repackaged through the store retreatment plant (SRP) facility, though until this facility is ready the NDA is recommended to place the more unstable canisters in extra layers of packaging. In response to these measures, the NDA has announced its decision to pledge a further £1bn on these packaging canisters, and £1.5bn on building a new facility to house the plutonium.
Power Technology 21st June 2018 read more »
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority pledges to be more efficient. In the week when a report by the National Audit Office criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority over delays in work and a £913m overspend, Kate Ellis said: “We are in the process of strengthening our approach to contracting: becoming better, more efficient, clearer, providing best value for taxpayers. “This is about getting better at awarding the contracts but also, equally importantly, making sure the work performed is in line with those contracts and the costs agreed in them.” Ms Ellis was speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association’s (NIA) Decom2018 event, in London.
Whitehaven News 21st June 2018 read more »