30 August 2011

The Rt Revd Lord Bishop of Hereford - Batting for LFTRs

Lord Bishop of Hereford, Rt Revd Anthony Priddis   

Written Answers

       Tuesday 24 May 2011                   

Energy: Nuclear Reactors


Asked by The Lord Bishop of Hereford
    To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 4 May (WA 157) on liquid fluoride thorium reactors, what assessment they have made of the independence of the assessment undertaken by the National Nuclear Laboratory, given the involvement of Nexia Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels.[HL9194]
    Written Answer By: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Nexia Solutions was a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), which focused on research and development. In 2008, it was transferred out of BNFL under the Energy Act Transfer Scheme to form the National Nuclear Laboratory, which is an independent company, owned wholly by Her Majesty's Government and is operated as a commercial entity under the management of a consortium led by Serco. The assessment referred to in (WA 157) was a position paper produced entirely by the NNL at its own initiative. While it is assumed that the technical expertise retained by the NNL from Nexia has underpinned the opinions in the paper, no assessment of the paper has been undertaken by my department.           
    To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the independent assessment undertaken by the National Nuclear Laboratory, what plans they have to undertake further independent work to address issues associated with liquid fluoride thorium reactors.[HL9195]
    To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the readiness of the Government of China to undertake research and development work on liquid fluoride thorium reactors, whether they will commit to more work, either nationally or with international partners, on this source of energy.[HL9197]
    Written Answer By: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland):
    As noted in the Answer to your Question of 26 April 2011, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has asked the NNL to conduct further analysis of the wider benefits of next generation reactor designs and to compare the use of thorium and uranium fuels in them. This study includes assessments of safety, radio-toxicological hazard, scale, economics, and outstanding technical barriers. Molten salt reactors, within which category liquid thorium fluoride reactors fall, are one of the reactor designs being considered. We are expecting the findings of this study to be available by the end of the summer.                                                     ----
    To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission independent work specifically on the safety, cleanliness, scale and economics of liquid fluoride thorium reactors and any particular advantages they may offer in the United Kingdom context. [HL9196]
    Written Answer By: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government support relevant R&D into nuclear technologies through a range of mechanisms and organisations, including universities and research councils, the National Nuclear Laboratory, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and others. Any future R&D on liquid thorium fluoride reactors would be done through these organisations. Findings of the NNL's forthcoming study and the position of potential international partners on this technology would be expected to inform any decision to support any new R&D.

1 comment:

  1. The good Bishop is keeping at it.

    29 May 2012 : Column 1074

    The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, will the Minister give a commitment from the Government to explore the alternative nuclear fuel of thorium over uranium, not least because of the timescale to which he referred, but also because many of us regard it as a far safer source of material? It is greatly greener and more secure, and it needs a commitment to explore it and to put research money into it. I would be grateful for the Minister's response.

    Lord Marland: My Lords, the subject of thorium comes up quite frequently when we consider nuclear, and of course it would be wrong of any Government not to explore all the potentially new ways of developing new nuclear. Indeed, the opposition Benches are always pressing on this subject. The Government are of course open to looking at thorium. At the moment, however, our priority is to get Hinkley Point going as quickly as possible.