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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:19 PM

Plans for Sellafield plutonium reactor rejected


Flasks containing used fuel cooling down at Sellafield's reprocessing facility. The reactor plan was announced as a way of converting the UKs 82-tonne stockpile of plutonium into power. Photograph: Don Mcphee

A plan to build a plutonium-burning reactor at Sellafield in Cumbria has been rejected by the UK government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Internal emails seen by the Guardian reveal that the NDA regards the reactor technology as immature and commercially unproven. It would also create large amounts of plutonium-contaminated waste and increase the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, the NDA says.

The reactor plan was announced by General Electric (GE) Hitachi in November as a way of converting the UK's 82-tonne stockpile of plutonium at Sellafield into power.

Known as "Prism" (Power Reactor Innovative Small Modular), it is a new design of sodium-cooled fast reactor that is fuelled by plutonium.

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