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Major Investment Announced in NNL Research Facilities

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is delighted to welcome announcements today from Energy and Business Minister Michael Fallon of major Government support for critical nuclear R&D facilities.

Under the terms of the announcement, Government is providing around £5million to NNL to commence the process for commissioning Phase 3 of NNL's Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site in Cumbria. Phase 3 is a suite of world-leading, heavily shielded "hot-cells" able to handle in safety the most radioactive specimens on the planet. After each piece of work, an individual cell can be removed and cleaned ready for the next task, thus preventing any buildup of background contamination, which can hamper accurate analysis.

Separately Mr Fallon announced £8million to establish a Nuclear Fuel Centre of Excellence (NFCE). This money will provide shared equipment at NNL's facilities in Preston and Cumbria and at The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute. The new Centre will work with fuel manufacturers and others to play a leading role in the optimisation of current fuel designs and the development of advanced fuels for new reactor systems.

NNL Managing Director, Paul Howarth, commented:

"These announcements represent a massive boost to nuclear research capability in the UK and demonstrate the commitment now being shown by Government to return the UK to the global "top table" of nuclear nations. Our Phase 3 capability is the envy of many international visitors who have viewed the facility over recent years, and will help cement West Cumbria at the heart of nuclear R&D for decades to come. The Fuel Centre of Excellence recognises the extensive capability the UK has in this field and will allow us to play a leading role in national and international work on fuel, advanced reactors and next generation fuel cycles.

Both developments represent a fabulous boost for NNL and I am grateful to many colleagues who have worked very hard to prepare the ground for today's good news."