Government launches consultation on the future of the Sellafield MOX plant

In light of the publication by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) of their revised economic case for the operation of the Sellafield MOX plant, the Government has launched a consultation exercise on the future of the plant.

“DETR and MAFF invited public comments on the company’s plans in 1999,” said Environment Minister Michael Meacher. “Further consideration of the case is needed to take into account the consequences of the data falsification incident at BNFL’s MOX demonstration facility. BNFL have now submitted a revised economic case and it is right to give people a further opportunity to comment.”

The consultation will also include independent consultants, and will last eight weeks, with the consultants submitting their reports in around 10 weeks time. Comments should be submitted by 23 May.

“When the Deputy Prime Minister and the Health Secretary have considered all relevant information, including the consultants’ report and the responses to today’s consultation, they will then decide whether the proposed MOX manufacture is justified,” said Meacher.

BNFL has welcomed the new consultation, regarding it as further progress in the decision-making process. “There is a robust economic case for the operation of SMP (Sellafield MOX Plant),” said BNFL Chief Executive Norman Askew. “We have reinforced our market position and secured further customer commitment. BNFL has received letters of support for SMP operation from the plant’s existing and potential customers in all of the main MOX fuel markets. These letters express strong continuing support for SMP and genuine concern about the delays in authorising SMP’s operation.”

“We must also keep in mind that, looking to the future, SMP is able to play a significant role in the reduction of the UK’s plutonium stockpile by converting it into a valuable source of energy,” Askew added.

In February, the Health and Safety Executive announced that it was satisfied that BNFL had addressed all the problems revealed by the data falsification scandal which emerged last year (see related story).

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