SHEFC adds cash to dismantle reactor

April 9, 1999

Three Scottish universities have won their fight for help to decommission a nuclear reactor set up through a government initiative.

The Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre was opened in East Kilbride in 1963 to support the research of all Scottish institutions. The small reactor was shut down in 1995 because of the dwindling demand for nuclear engineers and the three remaining consortium members, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities, were faced with a multimillion pound decommissioning bill.

In 1997, the Scottish Office ruled that for technical reasons, the universities did not qualify for the government grants, while the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council said that it could not top-slice its 1997-98 grant to give special help to three institutions.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England made a substantial contribution to decommissioning the Joint Universities Reactor run by Liverpool and Manchester universities, but was later able to recoup funds from the sale of the land. The Scottish universities only lease the East Kilbride site.

Scottish secretary Donald Dewar has offered Pounds 2 million towards the decommissioning costs, expected to total Pounds 4.35 million.

Peter West, Strathclyde's secretary, said: "We are grateful to the Scottish Office and to the funding council for realising it would have been wrong to expect us to find the entire cost ourselves."

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