Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 07:26PM
Britain’s antiquated nuclear power plants are due to be decommissioned at a considerable cost. A total of nineteen power plants, some of which are over fifty years old have now outlived their usefulness.
Referring to the clean programme at Britain’s biggest plant, Sellafield, Jim Morse, a senior director at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had this to say:
"We've still a lot to discover, we haven't started waste retrieval in those parts of the estate where the degradation and radioactive decay has been at its greatest. No-one's done this before. It's very difficult to find another measure. There's nothing in engineering terms that allows you to extrapolate from what you have today."
Some of the nuclear waste was dumped into ponds in the early years and will now have to be retrieved, broken down into storable elements and encased in concrete until a decision can be made on their future. Our understanding is that the French store their nuclear waste in a similar fashion. It remains to be seen just how long this waste will remain dangerous, some estimates have been as high as 10,000 years, but we don’t really know exactly.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform had this to say about the costs of this mammoth operation:
"As the NDA continues its work to establish - for the first time - the scale of the challenge, the assessment of the costs involved will naturally need adjusting,"
He also went on to say that the next generation of nuclear power stations would produce less waste than those currently being dismantled, and that the power generators themselves would be obliged to pay for the costs.
Its good to see that they are getting to grips with such a prickly problem, however the costs are more than we imagined and will need to be built-in to the power generators feasibility studies in future.
Have a good one
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