- Define Credible Options
- Assess and Select Preferred Option
- Approve Strategy
- Implement Strategy
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Last Updated: 18 February 2013
Current Stage of Strategy Development
Define credible options
In the final stages of approval for credible options phase, initial work on preferred options already initiated. The current strategy for reprocessing at Sellafield is being implemented. We are assessing our preferred option for a contingency strategy.
Magnox reactors were the first generation of nuclear power stations to operate in the UK, and responsibility for their decommissioning was assigned to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on 1 April 2005. Of the 26 Magnox reactors owned by the NDA, four are currently operational and 22 are in various stages of decommissioning. Removal of the irradiated Magnox fuel from the reactor cores is the first stage of decommissioning and results in a significant reduction in radioactivity and hazard at the reactor sites. The spent fuel is dispatched to Sellafield for reprocessing. Reprocessing of Magnox spent fuel, where the fuel is separated into uranium, plutonium and waste, has taken place for over 50 years. Over 90% of the lifetime arisings of Magnox fuel have already been reprocessed in accordance with UK Government policy.
To ensure the safe management then ultimate disposition of spent Magnox fuel.
Scope and Boundaries
The scope of the strategy for Magnox includes all the fuel discharged from NDA's 26 Magnox reactors and DFR breeder material. The strategy currently excludes fuel held in the Legacy Ponds and Silos at Sellafield as well as other non-Magnox fuel and materials located on other sites although opportunities to safely manage these using Magnox facilities will be exploited wherever practicable.
The Magnox fuel strategy interfaces with a number of other Topic Strategies including:
- Spent oxide fuel strategy is related due to the potential impact on fuel storage space at Sellafield
- Plutonium strategy is related because plutonium is produced as a result of reprocessing Magnox fuel
- Uranics strategy is related because uranium is produced as a result of reprocessing Magnox fuel
- Spent exotic fuel strategy is related because there is fuel from other sites that could potentially be reprocessed through the Magnox reprocessing facilities
- Higher Activity Waste strategy is related because waste results from treatment and reprocessing.
The two main strategic and the corresponding sub-options that relate to Magnox spent fuel are:
1. To reprocess spent fuel
1.1 Reprocess through the Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield
1.2 Reprocess through Thorp
1.3 Build new facility
1.4 Send to a third party
For the above strategic option the most practical and economically viable sub-option is to reprocess the fuel through existing Magnox reprocessing facilities.
2. To condition the fuel, store and dispose of it in the proposed Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)
2.1 Interim wet store, condition and dispose of in GDF
2.2 Interim dry store, condition and dispose of in GDF
2.3 Condition wetted fuel and dispose of in GDF
Irradiated Magnox fuel will be removed from reactor sites and reprocessed in the Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield. This strategy reflects current Government policy and is, presently, the only accepted technology for managing spent Magnox fuel.
The current Strategy is established, soundly based, mature and being executed at Sellafield and the reactor sites. Its delivery is being managed by means of the Magnox Operating Programme (MOP9).
However, given the age of the facilities involved, there is a risk that plant under-performance or failure may prevent some of the fuel from being reprocessed during the predicted operational life of the existing facilities.
Consequently a contingency strategy is being developed to condition spent Magnox fuel for storage and ultimate disposal in the GDF. Development of the contingency is being undertaken in accordance with the gated process of the NDA Strategy Management System (SMS).
Stakeholder Engagement on Magnox Fuel
Execution of the current strategy is reviewed regularly at an operational level with the SLC and regulators to ensure compliance with MOP8. The key aim of the review is to assess performance and mitigate risks that could impact upon delivery of the strategy.
Separately Theme Overview Group (TOG) meetings for 'Nuclear Materials and Spent Fuel' are held and include:
- Scottish and English Government
- NDA's Radioactive Waste Management Directorate
Development and monitoring of the Magnox Fuel Topic Strategy, including contingencies, is being progressed through bi-monthly engagement with the TOG, whose purpose is to provide considered advice to the Strategy Development and Implementation Group (SDIG).