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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Fast reactor proposed

FACE to face meetings with suppliers and skilled nuclear workers will be held in West Cumbria next week by the global energy company looking to bring the world’s fast reactor – PRISM – to Sellafield.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy says their reactor would not only dispose of Sellafield’s massive stocks of plutonium but also produce low carbon electricity as a by-product.

And if GEH can get the go ahead it predicts a multi-billion pound investment for the area creating about 900 new permanent jobs and another 1,000 indirectly in the local community on top of the construction work.

Danny Roderick, senior vice president of new plant projects, said: “This multi-billion pound investment would stand to create a range of opportunities for suppliers while continuing to develop the country’s nuclear energy skills base. It would also reaffirm Cumbria’s position of nuclear excellence with Britain’s Energy Coast.

“We are convinced the PRISM technology provides an innovative solution to the objectives set by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – the quickest disposal of plutonium at the best value – while providing substantial environmental and economic benefits.”

GEH is linking up with the Sellafield-based National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to draw on its technical expertise.

So far the Department of Energy & Climate Change has said the technology is unproven but GEH say it has been demonstrated in a fast reactor in the United States.

A company spokesman said: “We are currently working closely with the UK government including the NDA to detail why it believes PRISM technology is the best choice for the UK taxpayer.”

Next Wednesday GEH will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Nuclear Laboratory Ltd to provide expert technical input to the potential UK deployment of GEH’s innovative PRISM reactor. This would be specifically designed to disposition the UK’s plutonium while generating 600MW of low carbon electricity. Company chiefs will also with a number of the skilled nuclear workforce in West Cumbria to learn how they could work with GEH on PRISM’s potential deployment. More than 87 metric tons of plutonium is stored at Sellafield.

“We are excited for the potential opportunity to utilise the expertise of NNL and help the U.K. continue to take a leadership role in the reuse of plutonium,” said Danny Roderick, senior vice president of new plant projects for GEH. “We believe that PRISM is the best way to manage the U.K.’s plutonium stockpile efficiently, securely, and safely while generating low-carbon electricity at the same time.”

Paul Howarth, Nuclear Lab managing director, said yesterday: “With our recognised technical capability and long experience in fuel cycle analysis, we are pleased that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has looked to us to provide independent and authoritative input to the potential U.K. application of a PRISM reactor. We look forward to working with GEH as they develop their approach to helping the U.K. address its plutonium legacy.”

GEH along with leading UK engineering firms Costain, Arup and Pöyry, (GEH’s “CAP Alliance” partners) will be meeting a number of experienced West Cumbrian nuclear sector suppliers in West Cumbria to discuss the PRISM possibilities. It takes place at Energus, Lillyhall.

The company stress that PRISM is different to other competing plutonium re-use proposals including Mox.

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