Plutonium manufacture by civilian reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel
If the new British Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) goes ahead, it will be vastly more difficult to persuade Russia to shut down its unsafe reprocessing. (Wastes being reprocessed exploded at Tomsk in 1992.) THORP's economic propects are dim. Foreign contracts will sustain it through 10 years, but there is little expectation of operating beyond that. THORP's foreign contracts require it to receive spent fuel and reactor fuel and return plutonium and wastes. The UK can do both without even turning on the plant. Britain already has 36 tonnes of plutonium that it does not know what to do with, while bureaucratic momentum drives the project ahead. The last thing the world needs is additional tonnes of plutonium that must be safeguarded so tightly that not even a few kilograms are lost to terrorists or to outlaw governments.