November 1999

"Only 5% Want MOX Plant"

Barrow Evening Mail, 28 October 1999
By Rob Merrick, Parliamentary Correspondent

[Posted 02/11/1999]

Only 5% of responses to a government consultation have backed giving the go-ahead to Sellafield's 300M MOX plant. A massive 96% of groups and individuals have urged Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to reject full commissioning.

The revelation will throw into doubt the future of the plant on which BNFL says 600 jobs depend. Mr Prescott is expected to make a decision within weeks on whether to allow commissioning. It is the second blow within a week to BNFL's hopes of winning orders worth 2Bn to recycle plutonium and uranium into fuel for modern reactors.

A report by independent experts handed to Mr Prescott last week claimed MOX was uneconomic and could lead to nuclear catastrophe.

The huge thumbs-down for MOX was revealed to MPs in a parliamentary answer from Environment Minister Michael Meacher.. Mr Meacher told MP's that 332 responses had been received in the public consultation which closed on July 23rd - with just 16 (5%) in favour. Local Authorities, scientists, protest groups, unions and residents are all likely to have sent their views to the Government. Almost 10% (32) came from abroad, possibly from Ireland which is greatly affected by emissions from Sellafield.

FOE nuclear campaigner Dr Patrick Green said " Nobody supports MOX apart from the workers at Sellafield. The only way the government can give the go-ahead is by ignoring the overwhelming majority of respondents to its consultation. And that's not to mention public opinion in general, all scientific evidence and the lack of any commercial future for nuclear reprocessing. "

Mr Prescott had been expected to agree the go-ahead after saying he thought full commissioning was "justified" when he allowed uranium tests to start in June. If he now throws out the application BNFL will be landed with a 2M bill for removing that uranium.

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