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Louise Batchelor reports
"Environmentalists have long opposed reprocessing"
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Energy Minister, Brian Wilson
"I think this decision will be widely welcomed in the Highlands"
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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Dounreay reprocessing to cease
The plant is being decommissioned
The UK Government has ruled out the Dounreay nuclear plant's future role as a nuclear reprocessing site.

Three options had been considered for dealing with 24 tonnes of radioactive fuel from Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR).

Energy Minister Brian Wilson said that after consideration of advice on the future of the prototype fast reactor fuel, he felt refurbishment of Dounreay's reprocessing plant was not merited.

The government decided to store the fuel on-site, rather than reprocess it at Dounreay or Sellafield and the decision means Dounreay, in Caithness, will no longer be used as a reprocessing site and will continue with its decommissioning programme.

UK Energy Minister, Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson: Refurbishment is no longer justified

Site director Peter Walsh said Mr Wilson's decision was a welcome one which would allow resources to be channelled into other projects at the site.

He said: "Having a clear decision is in the best interests of Dounreay and the site restoration plan."

Announcing the government's decision, Mr Wilson said: "I have considered carefully the advice I have received about the future of this fuel and the implications of this decision for the major goal of restoring the Dounreay site.

"I have concluded that refurbishment of the reprocessing facilities at Dounreay is not justified.

"It is important to get on with the job of the environmental restoration of Dounreay. I have taken full account of the UK Atomic Energy Authority's work to identify the best environmental option during the public consultation.

This is an historic day which ends the process begun by the late Donald Dewar in 1998

Rhona Brankin

"The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan sets out an ambitious vision for dealing with challenge faced by UKAEA, and has my full support.

"It will ensure that Dounreay continues to play an important role in the development of the local economy and offers opportunities to develop a world class industry for the UK."

Scottish Environment Minister Rhona Brankin said: "This is an historic day which ends the process begun by the late (first minister) Donald Dewar in 1998 when he and the then Minister for Energy, John Battle, announced that no new commercial reprocessing contracts would be sought by Dounreay.

"Today's announcement has ended once and for all the possibility of a restart of reprocessing at Dounreay and is a major step forward in the aim of restoring the Dounreay site and local environment."

Closure at site

Resources will be devoted to begin decommissioning Dounreay's reprocessing facility (D 1206), and Mr Welsh said the plant would now decide on the best treatment for different fuels at the site.

The reprocessing site was closed in 1996 when one of the process vessels developed a leak making the plant inoperable.

Last month, anti-nuclear campaigners said they hoped reprocessing would no longer be carried out at the Dounreay site.

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See also:

24 Jun 01 | Scotland
Campaigners hail Dounreay 'victory'
24 Oct 00 | Scotland
Dounreay clean-up work awarded
12 Oct 00 | Scotland
'Slow action' on Dounreay safety
09 Oct 00 | Scotland
Dounreay clean-up plans revealed
18 Aug 00 | Scotland
Nuclear clean-up begins
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