24 April 1998

Tam Dalyell MP (Lab. Linlithgow)

We welcome Georgian waste

Far from regarding the Georgian nuclear material and its processing as a regrettable necessity, we should positively welcome the opportunity, not only to make money for Britain but also to render a service to planet Earth.

If there are "nasties" to be dealt with which are dangerous to the environment surely they should be coped with by those who are most expert in coping. I am, as a Scot, proud that the scientists at Dounreay should play their part in protecting Mother Earth.

Let us be clear. The proposal is that four kilogrammes of unirradiated enriched uranium will be processed to yield us 1,000 targets for medical isotopes.

What does this mean? First, that those in need of diagnostic expertise will find that they will be the more accurately diagnosed. Second, that cancer patients will be given a chance that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

One kilogramme of irradiated material will be carefully stored with the intent of reprocessing it when Dounreay is refurbished. Over the past 40 years, Dounreay has dealt with 13,000 fuel elements. The present five is a drop in the ocean.

As one who has visited Tbilisi, and is currently a vice-chairman of the all-party party parliamentary group on central Asia, I know the parlous state of much technical equipment in the former states of the Soviet Union. There are dire technical problems.

It is not much of an exaggeration to say that dangerous materials could end up there in the proverbial car boot sale. Much better for the sake of humanity that perilous substances should be dealt with by the disciplined and effective scientists willing to do so: they are to be found at Dounreay.

I vigorously support Industry Minister Brian Wilson and others who have argued this case without a blush.

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