UK to shut nuclear unit in wake of Japan disaster

Unions hit out at the decision to close the Sellafield MOX Plant, which employs 800 people.

London: Britain`s government on Wednesday said it
planned to shut part of a nuclear plant in Sellafield,
northern England, as soon as possible and on commercial
grounds following Japan`s nuclear disaster.

Unions hit out at the decision to close the Sellafield
MOX Plant, which employs 800 people.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which
implements government policy on the management of nuclear
waste, said the facility would be closed to ensure taxpayers
did not "carry a future financial burden."

A statement added: "The NDA Board has now assessed the
changed risk profile for SMP arising from potential delays
following the earthquake in Japan" and "the only reasonable
course of action is to close SMP at the earliest practical
opportunity."

The Prospect union, which represents workers in the
nuclear industry, said "the closure decision was thought to
have been influenced by the lack of funding available from
Japanese government contracts, following the earthquake and
tsunami that shut down the Fukushima 1 nuclear reactor in
March."

It added in a statement that the facility takes
plutonium that has been reprocessed from spent nuclear fuel at
Sellafield`s THORP plant, and recycles it into `mixed oxide
fuel,` which can be reused to fuel nuclear reactors.
Kevin Coyne of the Unite union said the decision was
"shocking and frankly bizarre".

"The government is currently deciding whether to give
the go-ahead for building a new MOX plant. So where is the
rationale in closing the current one now?" he said.

Sellafield lies on the Irish Sea coast in Cumbria,
northwest England.

Britain`s chief nuclear inspector said in May that
Britain`s nuclear plants were not at risk from the kind of
natural disaster that caused Japan`s crisis and could continue
to operate as normal.

The British government is planning a new series of
nuclear reactors on existing sites to maintain electricity
supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions as an old generation
of power stations are phased out.

PTI

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