Thursday, November 22, 2001

One of Sellafield's main customers has told a Parliamentary Select Committee it wants to end its reprocessing contracts with BNFL because it is too costly.

It prompted CORE spokesman, Martin Forwood to say: "In confirming exactly what we have been saying over the last 21 years, British Energy's statement has pulled the rug from underneath BNFL's claims for reprocessing.''

In its submission to the Commons committee, British Energy told MPs: "British Energy has never re-used any of the material produced by reprocessing because it would be uneconomic to do so; this is likely to remain the case in the short to medium term.

"Reprocessing AGR fuel is an unnecessary and expensive exercise that British Energy cannot afford. Reprocessing produces materials that have no current economic value. There is no technical need for reprocessing; BNFL could provide storage-only management, at a fraction of the cost, leaving open the option in the future to reprocess if it became economically desirable to do so. British Energy has made it clear in a previous submission to the Trade and Industry Committee that it would prefer not to reprocess AGR fuel, but it is constrained by contracts which BNFL are not currently prepared to renegotiate.''

The company continued: "Most countries do not carry out reprocessing, recognising the economic drawbacks, and propose to directly dispose of their spent fuel.

"In the US, nuclear operators deal with their spent fuel management on a "pay as you go" basis, paying $1 per MWh to Government. In the UK, British Energy has to pay BNFL and other government organisations some six times this amount. Put quite simply, if the UK arrangements for spent fuel were to apply in North America, British Energy would be making a loss there and if the US arrangements were to apply in the UK, we would be in profit here.''