Spent Fuel Ponds at Sellafield – a result of “Reprocessing” the world’s nuclear wastes – much of the reprocessing waste is discharged through a pipeline to the Irish Sea where it sits on the sea bed till resuspended and brought back on the tide.
“A unique art exhibition will mark the end of nuclear fuel reprocessing at Sellafield’s Thorp plant. The Art of Reprocessing has been commissioned by the site’s operator Sellafield Ltd. It will celebrate the plant’s immense contribution to the global nuclear industry. Running at the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, from 16 November, it features works by artists from the UK and Japan. Thorp began operations in 1994. It reprocessed (or recycled) spent nuclear fuel from 34 plants around the world. It is one of only two commercial reprocessing sites in existence.”
In the 1990’s I remember standing outside my daughter’s primary school collecting signatures to oppose the opening of THORP reprocessing plant at Sellafield.
The only reason for reprocessing is to strip out the bomb making plutonium (!) …..and uranium supposedly for “recycling” but only a small percentage is ever resused with the industry preferring fresh uranium, It was argued the dry storage route (instead of reprocessing) treats all the spent fuel as a single waste stream and avoids deliberate radioactive discharges to the environment. THORP does not make plutonium, it just makes it usable! And Sellafield is celebrating!
Reprocessing increases the volume of nuclear waste by a massive amount something over 100 times! Reprocessing uses vast amounts of nitric acids to strip out the plutonium and uranium from the spent fuel, along with tens of millions of gallons of fresh water every day to dilute the crapola going down a long pipe line into the Irish Sea.
Virtually all the radioactivity in the original spent fuel ends up in the numerous reprocessing waste streams and discharges arising from THORP. These waste streams require further management or disposal.
Not only routine wastes are dumped into the environment from THORP but there has been leak after leak including this from 2005 “A leak of highly radioactive nuclear fuel dissolved in concentrated nitric acid, enough to half fill an Olympic-size swimming pool, has forced the closure of Sellafield’s Thorp reprocessing plant. The highly dangerous mixture, containing about 20 tonnes of uranium and plutonium fuel, has leaked through a fractured pipe into a huge stainless steel chamber which is so radioactive that it is impossible to enter. Recovering the liquids and fixing the pipes will take months and may require special robots to be built and sophisticated engineering techniques devised to repair the £2.1bn plant.”
Both reprocessing and dry storage are interim measures. However, reprocessing makes the problem of nuclear waste far worse and results in deliberate discharges to the environment. This deliberate discharge of radioactive waste to the environment is being “celebrated” by Sellafield with unwitting artists taking part in the celebration of decades of nuclear pollution into the Irish Sea and into our air, into our rivers.
Plutonium is created in nuclear reactors and is present in spent nuclear fuel. It cannot be used while it is contained in spent nuclear fuel because it is too impure (just 1% of the spent fuel is plutonium) and because the radioactivity of spent fuel makes it impossible to handle.
How many radiation linked diseases have been caused by the Thorp plant?
How many deaths?
How many nuclear bombs?
How many radioactive particles on West Cumbrian Beaches?
Jamie Reed, Sellafield Ltd’s head of development and community relations (and former MP for Copeland) said:
“The end of reprocessing at Thorp is one of the most important events in Sellafield’s history.
“After the closure of Calder Hall, it’s the biggest change to our site in the 21st century.
“The plant has made a huge contribution to west Cumbria in terms of jobs, skills, pride, and prestige.
“The Art of Reprocessing will celebrate its unique achievements and the people who made it possible.”
We are supposed to lap this crapola up like good little nuclear luvvies and be grateful.