The United Kingdom: Problems of Containment
The United Kingdom's nuclear waste problem can be best examined by looking at British Nuclear Fuels Limited's reprocessing center on the Irish Sea not far south of the Firth of Solway, the broad estuary that separates northwest England from the south of Scotland. All of the spent fuel from British reactors--and hence nearly all of the radioactivity-- fetches up at this center. Not only do several major kinds of waste arise here, but the greater part of the collective dose of radiation from commercial nuclear power to which the British public has been exposed has come from here.
The River Calder flows through the center, with the Windscale fuel reprocessing facility just to the north of the river and the Calder Hall power reactors just to the south. Construction of nuclear facilities at this site began in the early postwar years with the original plutoniumproduction reactors, or "piles." In 1956 the first of the Calder Hall reactors came on line and produced the first nuclear power for the commercial grid. From that time on the center assumed a key role not only in Britain's nuclear weapons program, but also in its emerging nuclear energy program, and especially in the reprocessing of fuel from magnox reactors.1____________________