Sellafield reprocessing in more hot water

Norway joins countries bidding for a ban; major UK customer calls for halt to the business

Britain's nuclear reprocessing business at Sellafield in north-west England has taken a further knock, with Norway joining a group of countries that will call for its abolition at an intergovernmental meeting next month. Plant operator BNFL's largest UK customer has simultaneously described reprocessing as "economic nonsense" and called for it to be stopped.

Nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield has been under increasing political pressure since last year's revelation that its workers falsified safety records for reprocessed nuclear fuel pellets. Earlier this year, Denmark launched a move to outlaw reprocessing in Europe under the Ospar convention on protection of the north-east Atlantic, and was quickly backed by Ireland (ENDS Daily 28 March). Greenpeace said today that Norway's environment minister Siri Bjerke had offered support to Denmark in a letter to the group.

Meanwhile, the head of leading UK power generator British Energy today distanced his firm from reprocessing at Sellafield in a newspaper interview. The UK£300m (euros 515m) paid to BNFL last year for reprocessing would have been cut to UK£100m if the spent fuel had been stored instead, Peter Hollins told the Independent newspaper. British Energy has nuclear fuel reprocessing contracts worth UK£4bn with BNFL.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace UK, tel: +44 78 65 81 00; Independent, and 11 May article.

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