Fears over nuclear fuel plant despite clean bill of health

Revelations at the weekend that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) identified two failings during an emergency exercise in March at Rolls-Royce’s Derby site have caused alarm among local residents. Fears have not been dispelled by the news that the company had changed its procedures and that the NII was satisfied with a repeat exercise last […]

Revelations at the weekend that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) identified two failings during an emergency exercise in March at Rolls-Royce’s Derby site have caused alarm among local residents.

Fears have not been dispelled by the news that the company had changed its procedures and that the NII was satisfied with a repeat exercise last week.

The site, which produces fuel for Britain’s nuclear submarines, does not carry out enrichment of the uranium that fuels submarine reactors – 97.3% fissile uranium against about 3% for a power station plant. However, it appears to manufacture the uranium-zirconium plates that make up the fuel modules. This is a chemical process, which carries similar risks.

* Rolls-Royce has signed a deal with US defence firm Pratt & Whitney to supply a key part for the American Joint Strike Fighter.

It will supply the short take-off and vertical landing lift system for the JSF119 turbofan in its engineering and manufacturing development phase.