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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

2nd Meeting of the 186th Session (2006-2007)

"Fast Breeder Reactors and the Environment"

Dr George Hunter
Radioactive Substances Policy Unit Manager
Scottish Environment Protection Agency

In the Wolfson Suite, Ground Floor
Edinburgh University Library
George Square, Edinburgh
On Monday 20th November 2006, at 7pm

Discussion of the impacts of Fast Breeder Reactors on the Environment in a Scottish context is very appropriate, for Scotland was the centre of the UK’s Fast Breeder research programme based at Dounreay. Dr Hunter will describe the concept of a “Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor” within its conceptual context of the ‘nuclear fuel cycle’, including mineral extraction, fuel production, operation of the reactor, reprocessing, waste discharge, storage and disposal, and decommissioning of nuclear facilities – and will argue that this needs to be considered holistically. He will indicate how radioactive environmental effects of fast breeder reactors and other parts of the nuclear fuel cycle cannot be viewed in isolation from other impacts, both potentially positive and negative, and will describe some of the many factors to be considered. Whilst acknowledging that many of the non-radioactive issues are important, his talk will focus on those related to radioactivity and the environment. He will describe how assessment of the effects of radiation and radioactive substances on the environment is currently carried out, discuss some acknowledged deficiencies and ongoing developments in assessment methods, and some current debates on the subject. He will argue that, even though there are other important issues on the ‘environmental agenda’, the radiological and environmental impact of all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle merit our serious and ongoing attention and that the level of regulatory effort devoted to this area continues to be entirely justified.

George Hunter is currently the manager of the Radioactive Substances Policy Unit of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, based in Stirling. He began work on radioactive waste management with the Ministry of Defence at Aldermaston in February 1982 before moving to Her Majesty's Industrial Pollution Inspectorate of The Scottish Office in January 1986 where he worked on Nuclear Emergency planning and later was the inspector for the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay. On the formation of SEPA in 1996 he took up the post of Head of Policy Co-ordination (Radioactive Substances) at SEPA before working on secondment to the Radiation Protection Unit of DG Environment of the European Commission in Luxembourg for 3 years and returning to SEPA in 2002.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Professor Anthony Busuttil, will be in the Chair

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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