Nuclear Installations Inspectorate confirms BNFL Falsification Scandal
extends to Plutonium Fuel now in Japan
By Greenpeace International
LONDON, Dec 15,
1999 - A letter dated 8 th November, released earlier today in Japan,
from the UK's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) to the Japanese
Embassy in London, confirms that plutonium fuel shipped to Japan earlier
this year from the United Kingdom, contains quality control data suspected
of being falsified by the producers, British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL).
The letter, from the NII's Deputy Chief Inspector, B.J. Furness, concludes
that "MITI and Kansai Electric are ... in a position to reach their
own independent conclusions as to the suitability of the fuel for use
from the NII is a further blow to BNFL's prospects for securing large-scale
MOX contracts with Japanese utilities. Such contracts are essential
if BNFL is to receive approval to produce MOX at the new, but as yet
unopened Sellafield MOX Plant. The UK government is currently considering
whether to approve or not.
"The Japanese utilities
and the public have been consistently deceived by BNFL over this affair.
The government must now refuse BNFL approval to open its new Sellafield
MOX plant," said Greenpeace UK Nuclear Campaigner, Pete Roche.
The NII confirmed
yesterday that NII Inspectors were meeting with MITI, on Monday and
Tuesday, at their offices in Bootle (near Liverpool) - but they were
not meeting Kansai. They also confirmed that the subject of the meeting
was the falsification of MOX fuel data - but also that the NII investigation
into the problem was ongoing.
The UK's Guardian
Newspaper, on 9th December, quoted the NII saying "no one in Britain
is endangered by the falsified safety checks, the only people might
have been were Japanese and they are outside our jurisdiction so we
have no obligation to publish".
"It may sound callous,
but this is exactly how the legislation is framed - unfortunately it
is not the NII's responsibility to consider the safety of using this
fuel in Japan" said Roche. "Given that the NII's letter to MITI has
confirmed that the data for Takahama-4 fuel is suspect; that the NII
has no remit to consider safety in Japan; and that the NII's investigation
is still ongoing, Kansai Electric have only one option - abandon all
plans for using this dangerous fuel."
and two Japanese anti-nuclear groups, Green Action and Mihama no Kai,
have written a joint letter to the NII Deputy Chief Inspector today,
to ask him to look in detail at the evidence presented by Green Action
to the Osaka District Court. The evidence examines the safety data on
the Takahama-4 fuel released in Japan following earlier revelations
about data falsification.
"It certainly looks
like at least 20 lots of fuel have data which have been fabricated,"
said Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action. "We would like to know what
the UK's NII make of our conclusions."
Notes to editors
The scandal first
emerged in September when the UK Independent newspaper revealed that
fuel quality control data that assures the dimension of the plutonium
MOX pellets intended for Takahama-3 reactor was confirmed as having
been falsified by BNFL. However BNFL claimed at the time that none of
the fuel already shipped to Japan was affected. As a result of the scandal
BNFL's MOX demonstration facility was closed on September 12 and it
remains closed today.
Three workers accused
by BNFL of undertaking the falsification, have been fired from their
jobs, and have recently lost their second round of appeal against dismissal.
They are currently considering further legal action to regain their
jobs, and claim that BNFL has made them scapegoats.
Copies of the letter
from the NII to the Japanese Embassy and of the letter from the three
environment groups to the NII available on request.
For further information:
Pete Roche - Greenpeace UK - 44 171 865 8229
Shaun Burnie - Greenpeace International - mobile number 0621 296913
Ailleen Smith Green Action, Kyoto +81 75 701 7223