Thursday, May 31, 2001

Copeland Council has told the government it strongly supports operation of the Mox plant and that anything other than a "yes" decision to licence it would be a massive blow for the area.

The council has been asked for its views in the latest and fourth round of consultation over the 462million Mox plant. Closing date for responses was May 23.

It says that Mox cannot be looked at in isolation and a decision to delay or not to proceed would seriously damage the site's future prospects.

"The reprocessing business itself would become questionable without the Mox plant and in turn this would present potential problems regarding plutonium management,'' the council has told the Department of the Environment.

"The consultation papers and recent announcements regarding future orders do clearly show economic validity for the business case,'' says the council and it warns of the potential socio-economic effects on the borough, where 60% of jobs are supported either directly or indirectly by Sellafield, if the plant is not licensed,

Council leader, Robin Simpson, and councillors Geoff Blackwell (development and environment) and Henry Wormstrup (economic regeneration) have signed a letter supporting Mox, which was sent to Claire Herman of the government's policy team on radioactive waste.

The councillors add: "The loss of reprocessing at Sellafield would be catastrophic for the community, requiring massive injection of support, a factor which has not been quantified in the economic and commercial justification, but should still be borne in mind.

"The council is aware of growing confidence in the performance of the work-force and management at Sellafield. There is evidence that this is being reflected positively by customers of the company and in turn by increasing demand.

"Because the environmental regulation aspects of the Mox plant have already been satisfied and now the economic case is equally robust, the council strongly supports operation of the plant.

"More important from our view point is the direct effect on local people. Our council is committed to providing residents with the best possible services, opportunities and quality of life. Anything other than a decision to operate the plant would be a massive blow to this objective.''

Some 600 jobs are supported by the plant. When operational, BNFL estimates 1,800 jobs will be supported, 300 at the plant and the others indirectly. Many of these would not be new but are jobs that will be retained in the area. The licensing of Mox will allow recycling of fuel and reduction of UK plutonium stocks.

Burning Mox fuel will produce energy without creating CO2 emissions. Very small additional aerial and liquid radioactive discharges may occur.