UK | Hundreds of jobs at risk as nuclear fuel plant closes

Posted on August 4, 2011

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UK | MIRROR | 4 August 2011

A NUCLEAR plant at Sellafield is to close, putting up to 800 employees at risk.

The MOX site, which recycles plutonium into mixed oxide fuel used to power reactors, is shutting because of uncertainty in Japan – its only customer – following March’s disaster at Fukushima.

Union leaders condemned the decision as “ill-conceived”.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which runs the plant, says its 800 workers may be offered jobs elsewhere at the complex in Cumbria, which employs 12,000.

Prospect union national officer Mike Graham said: “We are dismayed at the way this ­announcement has been made, without consultation with the unions, and without ­properly considering the way forward after its closure.”

Fukushima remains closed after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami and it is not clear how much nuclear energy Japan will generate in the future.

Sellafield will continue to ­decommission old UK nuclear plants and reprocess spent fuel.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear ­Disarmament, said: “This ­hopefully marks the long overdue end of a dangerous and expensive mistake.

“The MOX plant has cost the public over £1.4billion yet has produced less fuel in its whole lifetime than it was meant to make every two months.

“The whole idea of shipping hundreds of tonnes of plutonium-rich spent fuel halfway round the world from Japan was madness.

“Just 11kg of plutonium is enough to make a bomb, so to build a ­business on its transport across thousands of miles of sea was a disaster waiting to happen.”

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Posted in: UK