HC Deb 10 June 1998 vol 313 cc594-6W
Ms Roseanna Cunningham

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will establish an inquiry into the workings of Dounreay with specific reference to the reported loss of highly enriched uranium; and if she will make a statement. [44873]

Mr. Battle

[holding answer 9 June 1998]: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reported to this House on 3 June 1998, Official Report, column 365, there is no evidence to suggest that enriched uranium from Dounreay has been stolen or has fallen into the hands of terrorists. The Safeguards Office of my department are studying the UKAEA report "Dounreay Shaft Inventory" and if they see any reason for further investigation I will of course ensure that the necessary work is put in hand. Since 1973, nuclear material accountancy at Dounreay and other nuclear sites in the UK has been subject to independent oversight by the Euratom Safeguards Directorate. In addition, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are already conducting a review of safety at Dounreay and I expect their findings to be made public.

Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the current estimated cost of refurbishment of the reprocessing facility at Dounreay to be used to process the uranium fuel recently received from Georgia; when the plant is expected to be ready; and what further foreign customers she expects to use the plant. [40670]

Mr. Battle

[pursuant to his reply, 11 May 1998, c. 32]: I need to amend the information that I gave to my hon. Friend then that unirradiated fuel amounts to 80 per cent. of the uranium fuel in the consignment received from Georgia.

The correct percentage is 70. I have now been informed that the full details of the material from Georgia are as follows: The precise quantity of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) is: 4.125 kg of unirradiated material (which contains 3.7052 kg of Uranium-235); and 0.6191 kg of irradiated material (which contains 0.5537 kg of Uranium-235). The balance of the material is approximately 9.5 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU), which is not immediately weapons useable and therefore of less proliferation concern. The LEU

Research council and year Project grants Programme grants Special grants Studentships1 Fellowships
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
1995 27.9 23.1 26.3 55 n/a
1996 29.8 25.8 16.7 54 8.25
1997 31.3 30.1 24.5 50 8.55
Engineering and Physical Sciences
1995 66.3 n/a 78.6 10.4
1996 46.0 n/a 78.4 9.5
1997 38.9 58.2 76.7 10.7
Economic and Social
1995 n/a n/a n/a 26 n/a
1996 n/a n/a n/a 25 n/a
1997 17 n/a n/a 28 n/a
1995 37 61 n/a 46 20
1996 32 59 n/a 46 15
1997 26 57 n/a 43 16
Natural Environment
1995 n/a n/a n/a n/a 10
1996 n/a n/a n/a n/a 16
1997 26 21 n/a n/a 17
Particle Physics and Astronomy
1995 59 n/a 79 9
1996 54 n/a 84 13
1997 67 n/a 85 9
1 There are no data for the studentship applications because, with the exception of the ESRC research studentships, the Research Councils allocate studentships by quota to institutions which are responsible for the subsequent award. The figures given are therefore the percentage of studentships awarded to men, with the exception of the ESRC which shows the percentage of applications for research studentships by men which were successful


1. The EPSRC and PPARC do not distinguish project from programme grants. In addition, the EPSRC figure for these grants and for the special grants is the percentage of applications by men in applications where the gender is known

2. NERC figures for project grants represent NERC non-thematic (responsive) grants, and for programme grants NERC thematic (directed) grants

3. The success rate for MRC programme grants relates to final applications rather than applications submitted

4. Some Councils do not run special grants intended for new investigators, or are in only the first year of doing so

consists of 5.840kg of unirradiated material (which contains 0.584 kg of Uranium-235) and 3.7449 kg of irradiated material (which contains 0.3609 kg of Uranium-235).

In summary therefore, the total quantity of Uranium received from Georgia was 14.329 kg—made up of LEU of 9.5 kg and as previously stated HEU of 5.0 kg.

The irradiated material when it is eventually reprocessed will result in no more than two barrels of Intermediate Level Waste, again as previously stated.