HC Deb 20 March 1985 vol 75 cc514-5W
Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much plutonium now stored at Central Electricity Generating Board and South of Scotland Electricity Board Magnox stations is contained in intermediate level wastes, other than spent fuel elements, stored within nuclear reactors, as defined by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution on page 66 of its sixth report, Cmnd. 6618.

Mr. Goodlad

Only trace amounts of plutonium are contained in the intermediate level wastes which are stored at the Magnox stations.

Mrs. McCurley

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has reached agreement with the Central Electricity Generating Board to transfer to the board his right to plutonium from the Dungeness B nuclear power station.

Mr. Peter Walker

Anglesey Aluminium Ltd. (AAM) would have had rights to a share in the plutonium expected to be produced from the Dungeness B nuclear power station in the late 1990s because it contributed to the captial costs of the station. Under the Aluminium Industry (Anglesey Project) Scheme 1968 the then Government purchased these rights from the company by undertaking to make a series of quarterly payments running from 1971 to 2001.

I have now reached agreement with the CEGB to transfer to it the rights to plutonium from Dungeness B which I inherited as a result of this purchase. Plutonium from Dungeness B, like that from all other CEGB nuclear power stations, will now be fully owned and controlled by the CEGB, subject to the safeguards and other arrangements under the Euratom treaty. In consideration of this transfer the board will pay my Department £1,184,000, and for the year 1984–85 only has taken over my Department's payments of £156,752 to AAM, giving a total credit to my Department of £1,340,752. My Department will continue to make payments to AAM under the 1968 scheme for years after 1984–85.

The total payment of £1,340,752 is broadly equivalent to the discounted present value of this plutonium, though the range of uncertainty about value is wide. The value is, however, substantially less than was expected when the purchase from AAM was made in 1968. Assumptions which have proved inaccurate were then made about the demand for plutonium for use in fast reactors, and about the date of commissioning of Dungeness B. Both demand for plutonium and the amount produced during the 30-year life of the agreement will now be less. As a result, the payments already made to AAM totalling some £2 million will be treated as a constructive loss in the accounts of my Department.