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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Uni group backs call for new Mox plant in west Cumbria

An influential university group has backed calls for a new Mox fuel plant in west Cumbria, which could create up to 1,000 jobs.

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Looking to the future: MOX product development

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE), at Oxford University, has produced a report arguing that there is a future for Mox production in the UK, despite the recent closure of the Sellafield Mox Plant in the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear crisis.

However, the report’s authors have called for a review of that failure to ensure lessons are learned.

The study – Towards a low carbon pathway for the UK – concedes that Britain does not possess enough plutonium to make Mox manufacture profitable.

However, its authors argue that it might have a commercial future if the fuel is leased to operators rather than sold.

The Government recently said it favoured reusing Britain’s plutonium stockpile, which is stored at Sellafield, as fuel. The report welcomes that move.

The report says: “The business case for a new Mox plant needs to ensure that the best technology is used, construction and operating costs are minimised and income from the Mox fuel is maximised with a business plan and structure to motivate this.

“There is not enough plutonium to make Mox manufacture profitable but treating it as a proper business will at least ensure that the cost to the UK taxpayer is minimised.

“The report recommends a technology review building on lessons learned from the [closed Mox plant] and international experience in Mox manufacture to ensure that the plant can process the vast majority of the Sellafield plutonium stock.

“It also outlines a different commercial model based on the UK Government leasing the Mox fuel rather than selling it to a new build utilities. This should reduce the utilities’ view of the risk of burning Mox, increasing the amount they would be willing to pay for it.”

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