Nuclear industry feels squeeze as 3,200 jobs are axed: Delay in commissioning reprocessing plant at Sellafield is blamed for BNFL cutbacks

BRITISH Nuclear Fuels is to shed 3,200 jobs largely because of delays in commissioning the new Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant, the state- owned company said yesterday.

Its announcement brings the total number of jobs to be cut in the Governments' three main nuclear power businesses between 1990 and the end of next year to about 10,000.

The once cosseted nuclear industry, now facing increasing competition and a rapid decline in the state backing it enjoyed under Margaret Thatcher, is undergoing the same scale of cutbacks experienced in other energy sectors such as coal and conventional power generation.

About 1,000 employees working for contractors who built Thorp - Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant - at Sellafield, Cumbria, will leave in the next two weeks and a further 700 will depart by the end of the year.

These contract staff were due to have ended their employment at Thorp once the controversial pounds 2.8bn plant had been commissioned. But their departure has been brought forward because of the indefinite delay in starting operations. Many may have to be rehired when, or if, Thorp is brought into service.

British Nuclear Fuels said it would also be shedding 1,500 white-collar staff over the next two years and hoped no compulsory redundancies would be necessary. Most of the job losses will be at its Risley headquarters where there are 2,600 office staff.

The corporation said the cuts in staff jobs were partly a knock-on effect from the delay in commissioning Thorp. But the early end to the 1,700 contract jobs at Thorp involving firms such as Babcock, Laing and Balfour Beatty was a direct result of the Government's announcement this week that there must be further public consultations over the fate of the plant. Downing Street pointed out that the jobs would eventually have been lost in any case.

'The existing delays have cost nearly pounds 50m and further delays will inevitably cost the company tens of millions of pounds,' a statement from British Nuclear Fuels' board said. It added that 600 staff had already been laid off as a result of the existing eight-month delay.

But the board welcomed the strong support for Thorp expressed by Mr Major and other Cabinet ministers in a Government amendment to a motion in a House of Commons debate on Monday. It 'expressed great regret' at the decision to hold a second round of public consultations on the need for the plant.

State-owned Nuclear Electric, with 14 nuclear power stations in England and Wales, had more than 14,000 staff when it was taken out of the now defunct Central Electricity Generating Board in March 1990. Now it employs under 11,000 and numbers will fall to 9,500 in 1995. UKAEA, formerly the Atomic Energy Authority, employed 14,000 people in 1988. Numbers have fallen to 8,000 and will decline to little more than 7,000 next year; much of its business is now non-nuclear.

Only state-owned Scottish Nuclear, which has two stations north of the border, intends to keep staff numbers near constant at about 1,800.

Letters, page 21

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones