HL Deb 04 March 1997 vol 578 c130WA
Lord Jenkins of Putney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the purposes of nuclear reprocessing in the United Kingdom; where it is carried out; what percentage of nuclear waste reprocessed is from the United Kingdom and what percentage is from abroad; whether all waste originating from abroad is returned to the country of origin after reprocessing; and whether the quantity of nuclear waste in the United Kingdom has increased in recent years, and, if so, by how much.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)

The purpose of nuclear reprocessing is to recover reusable products from spent nuclear fuel, namely uranium and plutonium, which can be recycled to make fuel for burning in nuclear reactors. Reprocessing recovers 97 per cent. of the used fuel for reuse with the remaining 3 per cent. extracted as wasted and conditioned for storage and ultimate disposal. Reprocessing in the UK is carried out at UKAEA's site at Dounreay and BNFL's site at Sellafield. Operational details are a matter for the companies concerned. All overseas reprocessing contracts signed since 1976 contain return of wastes options; it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that these options should be exercised and wastes returned to the countries of origin.

The Department of the Environment report DOE/RAS/96.004, entitled Radioactive Waste Arisings in the UK—a Summary, published in June 1996, stated that on 1 April 1994 volumes of high level waste in stock were 3 per cent. lower than on 1 January 1991, while volumes of intermediate level waste in stock were 16 per cent. higher and volumes of low level waste in stock were similar.