Oxide Reprocessing: The Background
The original Windscale reprocessing plant separated plutonium and residual U-235 from the irradiated uranium metal fuels burnt in the Calder Hall piles. This contribution to the nuclear weapons programme began in 1951. The plant was also able to deal with spent uranium fuel from the Magnox programme when that began to discharge (also metallic uranium) spent fuel by the late 1950s. The original B204 reprocessing plant capacity was too small to cope with an expanding Magnox programme, so a second plant (B205) was brought into operation in 1964. This had a nominal capacity of 1500 tonnes throughput of spent fuel per year (or about 7.5 tonnes of extracted plutonium per year) but was thought capable of stretching to over 2000 tonnes per year.