First quarter of 2000
to the British Government for Plutonium Immobilisation and Re-Negotiation
of THORP Reprocessing Contracts
Green Action's proposal to Anna Walker, Director General for Energy,
Department of Trade and Industry released to press on 7.2.00 at MITI
press conference in Tokyo, 7 February 2000 (Green Action is an environmental
group based in Kyoto)
and Japan are at an important crossroads of their nuclear business relationship.
The quality assurance data falsification scandal could well turn out
to be a blessing in disguise, having brought to the fore this opportunity
to re-examine this relationship at this important time.
wise decision made now will lead to a better path. A short-sighted decision
concerned only with immediate benefits may lead to decades of quagmire
for both countries. It is therefore now crucial to embark on decisions
that have the future in mind.
this light, we firmly believe that it is of the utmost importance that
the Department of Trade and Industry takes this opportunity with MITI
to co-operate in facilitating a discussion leading to the re-negotiation
of THORP reprocessing contracts to temporary storage contracts. It is
worthy to note that the McKerron Report commissioned for UK NGOs including
Friends of the Earth states that Britain could save money if this were
done. We note also that Japanese utilities raised the issue of storage,
rather than reprocessing, of their spent fuel at the 1999 Japan Atomic
Industrial Forum, JAIF, held in Sendai in April 1999.
troubled operational history of THORP provides a further opportunity
to halt further reprocessing of Japanese spent fuel. The vast majority
of Japanese utilities spent fuel now sitting in Sellafield is still
to be reprocessed. Additional stockpiling of plutonium at Sellafield
will only add significantly to a problem already recognised by the UK
House of Lords in 1999.
the courageous decision not to go forward with the Sellafield MOX Plant
(SMP) and negotiating for the immobilisation of Japanese plutonium at
THORP is the path compatible with current political, technical, and
economic trends in both Britain and Japan.
is needed now is leadership. It cannot come forward from BNFL or the
Japanese electric utilities. This is the mandate for government.
will be frank and state that we think the possibility of the British
and Japanese governments taking this opportunity now to facilitate this
re-negotiation is slim. But we remain optimistic in the belief that
governments can indeed correct past mistakes and make decisions that
will have in mind what is best mutually for the future.
know it is not simple. There are a host of complications. However, such
a decision should be able to be made with skilful negotiation on the
part of both governments.
Britain at this time, recovering BNFL's credibility is vital. To this
end, a comprehensive investigation of MOX Demonstration Facility (MDF)
quality assurance data falsification, full and complete disclosure of
results, and a thorough and timely review of BNFL management practices
is indispensable. The British government must not state to the Japanese
that quality assurance is not a safety issue. This will only serve to
further undermine British credibility.