Last load of Scottish nuclear waste arrives in Belgium

A final load of nuclear waste from the experimental Dounreay power plant in Scotland has arrived in Belgium. It’s the twenty-first such set of spent nuclear fuel and it arrived on […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A final load of nuclear waste from the experimental Dounreay power plant in Scotland has arrived in Belgium.

It’s the twenty-first such set of spent nuclear fuel and it arrived on Boxing Day, according to Belgium’s nuclear regulator, FANC.

A shipping container holding three barrels of nuclear waste encased in cement was put into storage in Dessel, at the site of Belgian nuclear energy firm Belgoprocess.

The waste, which was originally sent to Scotland from Belgium for reprocessing, will be held in this special bunker temporarily until a final destination is found.

It was carried from Scotland by sea and across Belgium to Dessel by rail.

Is the cement casing safe?

The Belgian nuclear authority FANC says the huge concrete cylinders which hold the nuclear waste must have passed rigorous safety tests.

In a document explaining the testing process, the FANC says accidents are simulated include two types of “drop tests”.

One is a “free fall” of nine metres on a “non-deformable” (i.e. one which is not soft) surface, another a fall of one metre onto a steel point.

After these drop tests, the cement package also undergoes a fire test at 800°C for 30 minutes and an immersion test, adds the document.

The package must be preserved after these tests and its radiation level on the outside must be within international radiation limits.