European nuclear safety row deepens
ENDS Daily, March 31, 2000
chairman of troubled UK nuclear services firm BNFL yesterday admitted
that the Sellafield site might have to "look at the unthinkable" and
stop reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods into new fuel. Hugh Collum
was speaking to a parliamentary committee in London a day after the
UK government announced officially that it was abandoning plans to partially
privatise BNFL before 2002 at the earliest.
on the firm has escalated since last month's official criticisms of
safety management at Sellafield (ENDS Daily 18 February). Last week,
Denmark called on parties to the Ospar convention on protection of the
north-east Atlantic to agree a ban on nuclear reprocessing when they
meet in June (ENDS Daily 24 March). Ireland joined Denmark on Monday
(ENDS Daily 28 March).
today piled on further pressure, releasing draft text of a forthcoming
OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) review of nuclear waste management
options. Denmark based its call for a reprocessing ban in part on a
draft conclusion in the report that radioactive discharges would be
lower if waste was stored rather than reprocessed.
NGO today said it was a "scandal" that the report had been "delayed
and kept hidden" for so long. An Ospar official told ENDS Daily that
the report would almost certainly be discussed at the late June meeting.
The NEA confirmed that it was due to be released officially in late
May or early June.
In a related development, French nuclear services firm Cogema is facing
allegations of flaws in safety records for fuel pellets similar to those
that have beset BNFL. The German environment ministry yesterday ordered
safety checks on mixed oxide (Mox) fuel made at Cogema's Cadarache plant
in southern France after it emerged that "software problems" had led
to gaps in records. Cogema stressed that the problem affected only repeat
and not primary checks on pellets, and had not affected safety.
BNFL at http://www.bnfl.com,
tel: +44 1925 83 20 00
Greenpeace at http://www.greenpeace.org,
tel: +31 20 523 6222
and leaked draft of OECD NEA report at the adress: http://www.greenpeace.org/~odumping
Cogema at http://www.cogema.fr,
tel: +33 1 39 26 30 00