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Nuclear reprocessing ends at Sellafield’s Thorp plant

November 15, 2018 / Amanda Doyle

The thermal oxide reprocessing plant (Thorp) at Sellafield, UK, has ceased reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The Thorp facility opened in 1994, but in 2012 a decision was taken to end reprocessing once all remaining contracts were complete, due to a downturn in demand. It wasn’t viable to upgrade the facility to allow it to continue operating into the next decade as it would have required significant investment. The Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield is also due to complete operations with reprocessing ending in 2020. Thorp has processed 9,331 t of used nuclear fuel from 30 customers across nine countries, and the last batch made its way through the plant on 9 November. During reprocessing, the reusable uranium (96%) and plutonium (1%) were separated from the high-level waste (3%) and the uranium was then used to make more fuel.