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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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‘Rogue’ radioactive material to be sent to France

THE “rogue” highly radioactive nuclear material which got Sellafield into hot water with Japan will be on the move – to France.

This is the batch of eight Mox fuel assemblies made at Sellafield and later found to be “falsified” in its specification data after being shipped out to customers in Japan. The faked pellets scandal led to loss of business confidence in BNFL and for a time Japan refused to strike any further deals with Sellafield.

The fuel, a mixture of plutonium and uranium, was sent back to Sellafield – seven years ago.

BNFL, Sellafield’s former parent company, paid £40,000 compensation to its Japanese customers. Five Sellafield process workers also lost their jobs over the falsifications and the then BNFL chief executive John Taylor “fell on his sword” by resignation.

Now, after several years “evaluating the best options”, agreement has been reached with the government that the “rogue” fuel batch, along with a another eight, will be shipped to France for treatment – but not until 2014/15.

Asked why the fuel could not be processed at Sellafield, rather than the Areva operated Cap La Hague in France, a Sellafield spokesman said: “We would obviously like to but we do not have the same capacity that Areva NC has in order to retrieve the plutonium from unirradiated fuel.”

Once the fuel has been “separated out” for making new fuel the waste products will be returned to Sellafield.

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