in Mox deal with E.ON; Contract upsets protesters
The Guardian, May 25, 2002
By David Gow, industrial editor
British Nuclear Fuels said yesterday it had signed its largest single
contract for its controversial £472m Mox plant in Sellafield with
German utility E.ON yesterday.
BNFL claimed that the E.ON deal would fill 15% of the plant's capacity
and, coupled with earlier contracts with Swiss and Swedish nuclear plant
operators, guaranteed it a viable 40% capacity utilisation over the
But anti-nuclear campaigners at Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth
insisted that the latest deal still left the plant - which produces
from spent plutonium mixed with uranium - far short of economic viability.
They accused BNFL of excessive secrecy over details of the contracts
warned of hefty protests against any Mox shipments to Germany.
E.ON, which is buying UK energy group Powergen, has shares in 12 of
Germany's 19 nuclear power plants, including Brokdorf and Isar, scenes
violent protests. German utilities, according to Greenpeace, account
13.6 tonnes or 30% of the 44.6 tonnes of plutonium waste stored at
Sellafield for recycling into Mox.
Peter Roach, nuclear campaigner at the pressure group, said E.ON accounted
for 13% of the total, or around 5.8 tonnes. "We know from vari
that BNFL has given E.ON bargain-basement prices, partly to overcome
reluctance to buy Mox."
BNFL refused to give details of the deal on grounds of commercial
confidentiality but said E.ON had committed to turning all of its separated
plutonium at Sellafield into Mox.
Norman Askew, chief executive, said: "This new contract...confirms
there is a strong customer demand for Mox fuel from the plant. I am
delighted that we have signed such an important contract with E.ON who
one of our largest customers."
Roger Higman, nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said BNFL
yet to sign any contracts with Japanese operators which were essential
the Mox plant's viability.
"BNFL are being highly secretive about whether the Mox plant is
near capacity. Taxpayers deserve to see detailed figures showing whether
this plant will be profitable or not," he said. "The government
the construction costs and taxpayers want to know whether this investment
is paying its way or the plant is being kept going with huge subsidies."
· The Finnish parliament yesterday voted in principle to build
country's fifth nuclear power plant of up to 1600MW - and at a cost
to 2.5bn (£1.5bn).