NIS has called for the UK's stocks of plutonium to be treated as waste, and for production of plutonium to cease as quickly as possible.
In response to consultation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on a strategy for the long term management of plutonium, NIS argues that treating plutonium as waste is the only credible option for dealing with plutonium in future. Given the nuclear security and proliferation risks associated with plutonium, which are recognised by DECC, it is not feasible to place the metal in indefinite storage. Reuse of plutonium as a nuclear reactor fuel would be a high risk option given the economics of reprocessing, and would not solve the ultimate problem of dealing with an unwanted radioactive legacy.
As well as managing existing stocks, it is important not to produce further quantities of usable plutonium. Not only must the problem created by existing plutonium stocks be addressed, but further production of separated plutonium must ceased as quickly as possible.
NIS is also calling for the UK's military stockpile of plutonium to be brought under international safeguards and managed alongside civilian stocks.
NIS Project Director Peter Burt said: “The principal use for plutonium is in building nuclear weapons, and the 100 tonnes of this substance that the UK has produced over the past 60 years are a dangerous liability. We must begin work to place our plutonium stocks beyond use, and stop adding to the problem by creating more plutonium in the meantime.”
Read NIS's full response to the DECC discussion paper attached below.