Nuclear fuel called 'exotics' to leave Dounreay

The first shipments of breeder material left Caithness in December

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The remainder of nuclear fuel at Dounreay in Caithness is to be transferred to Sellafield in Cumbria.

Known as "exotics", it includes material containing highly enriched uranium.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said arrangements were being made on how to transport the fuel safely and securely.

The first shipments are expected to start in 2014 or 2015 and continue for six years. Dounreay is in the process of being demolished.

In December, work started on moving material called breeder from Dounreay for reprocessing at Sellafield.

The breeder has to be taken by road to a railway station at Georgemas for the rest of the journey from Scotland to England.

Removing all nuclear fuel from Dounreay will mean facilities for handling it there will not have to be built.

The NDA said it would also mean that security at the site could be significantly downgraded once decommissioning was finished at Dounreay by 2025.

Dounreay's "exotic" material

Type Tonnes Description

Unirradiated plutonium bearing fuels

15 (includes two tonnes of plutonium)

Stored in several locations in the form of powders, pellets and pins. Would require treatment before continued storage, or transportation to Sellafield

Unirradiated high-enriched uranium fuels

One in powder and pellet form. Also some uranium metals and alloys

Stored in small quantities. The NDA said the material could be consolidated into larger "more robust" containers for long term storage

Irradiated fuels


Most of the material was fuel for Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor. The NDA said the material had "achieved very high burn-ups", meaning it needs special handling and transportation arrangements. The authority said fuel was safely and securely stored at the site

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