Thursday, July 19, 2001

The new Energy minister is at Sellafield today - and Mox was expected to be one of the issues on his mind.

Brian Wilson, Minister of State for Industry and Energy, is having meetings with Sellafield's hierarchy and trade union officials as well as seeing various plants, including Mox.

Copeland's MP Jack Cunningham, along with BNFL, invited the minister because he was anxious for him to have a first-hand look at the Mox plant which is vital to Sellafield's future but still can't operate until the government says so.

More worry and delay hangs over the decision 460 million plant because the government has ordered that a report by one of its independent consultants, Arthur D Little in the plant's economic viability, should be seen by the public following a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth that the study had not been made part of the last batch of consultations.

A four-week extension to the consultations is about to start. Despite claims from other "nuclear experts" that starting up the plant does not make economic sense, BNFL said yesterday: "We are looking forward to seeding Arthur Little's report ourselves and believe it will support our case that the plant is justified."

Energy minister Brian Wilson will look around the Mox plant as well as seeing other facilities including Thorp, which needs to have its plutonium recycled into Mox fuel.

The minister will hear presentations from BNFL on "current and future issues."

Jack Cunningham will tour the site with him.

Last night Brian Wilson attended a private dinner hosted by BNFL's chief executive Norman Askew, at the nearby Sella Park House.