From Academic Kids

Missing image
Sellafield aerial view. © BNFL

BNFL, British Nuclear Fuels plc, is an international company, owned by the British government, concerned with nuclear power.

It manufactures and transports fuel (notably Mox), runs reactors, generates and sells electricity, reprocesses and manages spent fuel (mainly at Sellafield), and decommissions nuclear plants and other similar facilities.

In 1996 the UK's eight most advanced nuclear plants, seven Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR) and one Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) sites were privatised as British Energy. The oldest reactors, the Magnox sites, were separated as Magnox Electric plc, which was taken over by BNFL in 1998. All these power plants are to cease generation by 2010. In 1999 BNFL acquired Westinghouse Electric Company, the commercial nuclear power businesses of CBS, (Westinghouse acquired CBS in 1995). It owns nuclear-related sites in the US and also Sweden. The company claims a 12% share of the world's nuclear power generation.

Due to the failure of both the previous Conservative and present Labour governments to tackle the issue of long term storage of high level nuclear waste in the UK and due to historical liabilities the projected decommissioning costs are greater than the Nuclear Liabilities Investment Portfolio will or could hope to contain. This means that BNFL is technically bankrupt. Because of this, the labour government set-up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which came into force on 1st April 2005. The authority has taken control of BNFL's assets and liabilities, thereby allowing BNFL the freedom to concentrate on minimising decommissioning costs. However, the intention is to open up the decomissioning to tender in order to drive down costs and so BNFL will likely be one of a number of decomissioning contractors.

Leukemia advice

In the early 1990s concern was raised in the UK about the effect of nuclear power plants on unborn children, when clusters of leukemia cases were discovered nearby to some of these plants. The effect was speculative because clusters were also found where no nuclear plants were present, and not all plants had clusters around them. Using statistical analysis, researchers at Southampton University concluded that a link was present, deducing that radiation damage to men working at the plants had caused genetic abnormalities in their children. After this report British Nuclear Fuels initially advised workers who were being exposed to high levels of radiation not to father children, although they have since withdrawn this advice.

External link

de:British Nuclear Fuels plc.


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