MP opens up Reprocessing Debate
This Letter was sent by a British Socialist MP to
the Newspapers to help take Forward the complex Debate and encourage
a full Participation in the Decision.
1 Canada Square
LONDON EL 4 5DL
The decision of the SPD/Green German Government to honor their electoral
pledge to wind down the German nuclear programme and pull out of reprocessing
at Sellafield and La Hague in France , (" UK warns Germany in nuclear fuel row 21 January ") should
be seen by Ministers as an opportunity, not a blow.
As a politician who has completed two reports on Sellafield for the
European Parliament and has since asked hundreds of questions at Westminster
on Sellafield, and reprocessing, over the past 15 years , I think this
inevitable development should be seen as one of " gain, not pain
" to borrow John Prescott's rousing phrase describing the positive aspects
of climate change policy for British industry;
When British Ministers meet their German colleagues following this
week's opening gambit - and in subsequent months - to work out the most
equitable and environmentally sustainable way of " existing " reprocessing
at Sellafield, they could do no better thah to follow the constructive
example of France in creating a multifaced, bilateral high-level working
group to address the issue.
Germany has sensibly and generously given BNFL a whole year to work
out the optimum alternatives in respect of technical, legal, economic
and employment issues.
BNFL should not use this time to bluster that current contracts should
remain unaltered, but seek imaginative alternative work in plutonium
immobilization, waste management and remediation expertise, already
began by the BNFL Inc in the USA.
Nearly eleven years ago, John Prescott was told
in a Parliamentary answer of 9 March 1988 that the then Tory Government
intended that radioactive wastes arising from foreign nuclear materials
treated at Sellafield " should be returned " (Hansard Column 201).
He is now in an excellent position to negotiate a feasible time table
to carry this out as the responsible minister.
Energy Minister John Battle conceded in a written
reply on 18 January (Parliamentary report, 19 January ) (Hansard Columns
364-365) that armed escorts will be needed to transport Plutonium from
Sellafield back to consumer countries. Sadly, this gross militarisation
of the transport of waste and recycled nuclear materials is a penalty
for the folly of Sellafield's plutonium dream.
LLEW SMITH MP