- Define Credible Options
- Assess and Select Preferred Option
- Approve Strategy
- Implement Strategy
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Last Updated: 24 August 2012
Current Stage of Strategy Development
The current strategy of reprocessing and storage at Sellafield is being implemented. We have assessed our future management options for all oxide fuels and selected a Preferred Option. The strategy is being implemented, and will continue to be monitored.
Oxide fuel is used in Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR) operated by EDFE Energy, formerly British Energy (BE) in the UK, and in Light Water Reactors (LWR) operated by utilities around the world. The main difference between the two fuel types is that AGR fuel is clad in stainless steel and LWR is contained in Zircaloy. We are contractually committed to receive and manage all spent fuel arising from the seven EDF Energy AGR power stations in England and Scotland. About a third of this fuel is contracted with EDFE for reprocessing and the remaining two-thirds of this fuel is contracted for reprocessing or storage at our discretion. We are also contracted to reprocess overseas LWR fuel that has been received and is being stored at Sellafield, returning products and any associated wastes to customers, in line with contractual commitments.
To ensure receipt, safe management and ultimate disposition of UK owned oxide fuel and optimise the management of overseas owned oxide fuel held in the UK.
Scope and Boundaries
The scope of the oxide fuel strategy includes irradiated fuel from the seven AGR power stations in England and Scotland and the fuel already delivered to Sellafield from Japanese and European utilities. Excluded from this strategy is non-standard fuel which is considered as part of the Exotic fuel strategy and fuel from Sizewell B.
The Spent Oxide Fuel strategy interfaces with a number of other Topic Strategies including: ·
- Spent Magnox Fuel strategy is related because of the demands on common infrastructure at Sellafield
- Plutonium strategy is related because plutonium is produced as a result of reprocessing oxide fuel
- Uranics strategy is related because uranium is produced as a result of reprocessing oxide fuel
- Higher Activity Wastes strategy is related because there is potential for disposal of oxide fuel in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)
The options considered for oxide fuel were:
Option 1: Complete the reprocessing contracts in THORP - the current strategy for oxide fuels
Option 2: Reprocess less than the contracted amount of spent fuel in THORP
Option 3: Reprocess more than the contracted amount of spent fuel in THORP.
In accordance with the commitment given in our 2011 Strategy, the NDA has been investigating whether the current strategy for managing our oxide fuels, compared to other credible alternatives, remains the most cost-effective. Our Credible Options paper reports the key findings of this review of the underpinning for the strategy. It presents the Credible Options for oxide fuels and our assessment of them against a number of criteria.
Our analysis has shown that the amount of fuel that should be reprocessed in THORP on economic grounds is comparable to the amount that is contracted to be reprocessed. This is due to a number of interacting factors which results in an alignment of economic and commercial drivers. Therefore, the delivery of the current strategy (Option 1), to complete the reprocessing contracts, remains the most viable and cost-effective option. Following the closure of THORP in 2018 we plan to place the remaining AGR fuel into interim storage pending conditioning and disposal to a Geological Disposal Facility.
The success of delivering our strategy depends on two key conditions;
a. Obtaining the required performance across our existing reprocessing assets
b. Securing an agreed means for the interim storage of the remaining AGR spent fuel.
We believe meeting these conditions is highly credible and our case to do so is well-advanced.
We have now worked to underpin our strategy and have now published a Preferred Option paper confirming the current strategy as our preferred strategic option.
Stakeholder Engagement on Oxide Fuel
Topic Overview Group (TOG)
This group meets bi-monthly to consider topic strategies within the themes of Nuclear Materials and Spent Fuel. The group provides advice to the Strategy Development and Delivery Group (SDDG). It includes representatives from:
- Scottish and English Government representatives
- Department for Transport
- Ministry of Defence and
- NDA's Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD).