It has been announced that the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have completed a project designed to transfer around 700 kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from northern Scotland to the US for reprocessing.
The batches of radioactive material from the Dounreay site were transported to Wick John O'Groats Airport and sent to the US with Boeing C-17 military transport jets, the BBC reports. The shipments of highly enriched uranium have been delivered to the US since 2016 as part of London’s commitment to the Nuclear Security Summit that took place in Washington that year.
In the US, Dounreay’s uranium is planned to be down-blended and processed into fuel in civilian nuclear reactors. The result will be sent back to Europe for use in research reactors and to produce medical isotopes.
“The successful completion of the complex work to transfer HEU is an important milestone in the programme to decommission and clean up Dounreay Site”, NDA CEO David Peattie said.
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Dounreay, which received nuclear material from other countries for reprocessing in the 1990s, was cleaned up and demolished after its stock was sent overseas. Waste from Australia, Belgium, Germany, and Italy that was processed at the Scottish facility needs to be returned to the country of origin under an agreement reached in 2012.