Whitehaven News


Friday, January 26, 2001

BRITISH Nuclear Fuels has received a boost by this week's decision by Germany to lift the ban on shipments of spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing at Sellafield.

Germany's nuclear utilities imposed the ban two years ago due to the levels of radioactive contamination on the outside of the flasks.

However, BNFL at Sellafield was not the source - the flasks were French and the contamination was picked up in France.

But because of the "unacceptably high" levels Germany decided to halt its transportation of spent fuel to Sellafield and the equivalent Cap la Hague reprocessing plant in France.

Sellafield spokeswoman Ali Dunlop said: "It was a French issue but we have had a look at our own systems and worked with the Germans to make improvements and ensure that our own flasks are as free from contamination as possible, although there may be slight contamination on some flasks within the approved limits."

Twelve months ago BNFL forced the German Government to do a U-turn on its decision to cancel 1.2 billion worth of Sellafield reprocessing contracts for Thorp.

It put 100 Sellafield jobs at risk but BNFL's threat of legal action forced Germany to think again and the resumption of fuel consignments has increased security and confidence.

A BNFL spokesman said: "The fact that Germany has now agreed to transport to Sellafield again means we are now working on securing the workload for the future."

Site GMB convenor John Kane said: " It's great news for Sellafield. The workforce thought Germany was looking for an excuse to sever links with BNFL."