Pulling the plug on reprocessing - lessons from Dounreay

The Government has called a halt to further commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) nuclear facility at Dounreay. Official assurances that the decision was taken solely on economic grounds have been undermined by a damning report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate which reveals a litany of poor management practices and serious safety breaches. The report - coupled with a series of incidents and revelations of radioactive contamination - calls into question the NII's own effectiveness as a regulator and the secrecy of its dealings with the nuclear industry. Dounreay's troubles have increased pressure on the Government to re-examine the case for all nuclear reprocessing activities in the UK.

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