High hopes for world’s first Prism fast reactor at Sellafield
Last updated at 12:01, Thursday, 12 July 2012
CHANCES of the world’s first Prism fast reactor being built close to Sellafield and bringing thousands of new jobs to Copeland may be moving closer.
As first revealed in The Whitehaven News seven months ago,GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy are pushing firmly ahead with plans to bring a Prism plutonium-burning electricity-producing reactor to the area.
This week the American-based global energy giants submitted a feasibility study aimed at convincing the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that building the first fast reactor of its type in the UK to re-use plutonium is credible.
And GE Hitachi insist that the reactor would be “centrally located in Sellafield” virtually eliminating transport of waste on British roads.
The company is confident of creating around 900 permanent jobs, another 1,000 indirectly in the community and thousands more in construction. It says that Prism is the answer to re-using the UK’s plutonium – most of it is stored at Sellafield under armed guard security – by burning the security-risk material in order to generate 600 MW of clean, green electricity in the proposed Sellafield area reactor.
The 1,000-page study report has gone to the NDA charged with deciding the best ways of dealing with the growing plutonium stocks – 100 tons of it at Sellafield.
When GE Hitachi first unveiled the plans in December, NDA and the Department of Energy described Prism as an unproven technology.
On Monday of this week GE Hitachi submitted a feasibility report to the NDA determined to convince the authority that Prism is a credible proposition – and a better technology bet to a new Sellafield Mox plant.
One of the key conclusions is that the Export Import Bank of the United States is interested in helping to finance Prism in the UK.
Another is that it would be based on ‘pay for performance’, shifting commercial risk from the UK taxpayer to a private funding model via the plant operator being paid to re-use and sell 600 MW of electricity to the grid.
Danny Roderick, the company senior vice president nuclear plant projects, has told The Whitehaven News: “This is a multi-billion pounds investment, a huge project, another great expansion for Sellafield, benefits for the area putting it even further up on the international map for nuclear excellence. It is an exciting, innovative plutonium-management solution with speed, cost and risk reduction, taxpayer value, job creation and low carbon electricity generation credentials.”
Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn urged that if Prism is built it should be near Sellafield.
“We have the workforce with the skills and experience to manage plutonium whatever government decides to do with it. For a long time now we’ve talked about a nuclear renaissance but I get the feeling we need to do something to come along and kick it all off. Prism could be the catalyst.”
Coun Woodburn, along with Copeland senior officers and Executive councillors, recently met with GE Hitachi.
“We have known for a long time that re-use of plutonium could hold the key to future nuclear development in West Cumbria. Prism seems to tick the boxes. It’s well known we have been campaigning for a second Sellafield Mox plant but if the global market demand doesn’t exist for Mox then this could be the next best option in terms of safeguarding highly skilled well paid jobs in Copeland,”she said.
Danny Roderick added: “Submitting our feasibility study report to the NDA for their review is a significant milestone in our efforts to assist the UK government in the disposition of its plutonium stockpiles. We feel strongly that we have the best, lowest-risk solution to meet the NDA’s and ultimately UK citizens’ needs. We applaud NDA’s transparency and objectivity in looking at plutonium reuse alternatives and look forward to a detailed analysis of all technologies being considered.”
Company chief consulting engineer Eric Loewen explained: “Bringing a reactor to the table that includes the ability to truly reuse plutonium while at the same time incorporating a model of ‘pay only for the plutonium we disposition’ for the UK taxpayer is a breakthrough event.”
First published at 11:09, Thursday, 12 July 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Meg, the uranium is burnt in the reactor with the plutonium.
Can all these very clever commentators, Councillor Woodburn excluded, tell us how the Uranium generated from the burning of the Plutonium is going to be disposed of? No? i thought not, some other generations problem.
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