GE Hitachi signs MOU to address plutonium disposal in the UK

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) on April 4 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Nuclear Laboratory Ltd. (NNL) to help the UK government look at ways to address its growing stockpile of plutonium.

NNL will provide technical input to the potential UK deployment of GEH’s PRISM reactor, which would be specifically designed to disposition the UK’s plutonium while generating 600 MW of electricity. PRISM is based on technology that was demonstrated in a fast reactor in the U.S. called the EBR II, or Experimental Breeder Reactor, that operated for 30 years. Last year, GEH completed the commercialization of PRISM, which began in 1981.

The UK is currently storing more than 87 metric tons of plutonium at the Sellafield nuclear complex in West Cumbria, England. The UK government confirmed its intention to reuse this plutonium in December 2011, declaring that it “remains open to any alternative proposals for plutonium management that offer better value to the U.K. taxpayer.” The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced in February 2012 that it is seeking proposals for alternative approaches to manage the UK’s plutonium stockpile.

GEH is convinced that its PRISM technology provides an innovative solution to the objectives set forth by the NDA—the quickest disposal of plutonium at the best value—while providing substantial environmental and economic benefits. GEH said is currently working closely with the UK government, including NDA, to detail why it believes PRISM technology is the best choice for the UK taxpayer.

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