Ex-ministers slate failed Sellafield plant
Sunday 17 October 2004
Two former environment ministers - Labour and Conservative - are demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the wasting of hundreds of millions of pounds by British Nuclear Fuels on a new plant that it cannot get to work.
In an extraordinary alliance, Michael Meacher and John Gummer, who oversaw the building of the plant and gave it permission to start up, plan to refer the "scandal" to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
Their initiative follows the news - reported on page 3 of Business today - that BNFL has had to call in its chief competitor, the French company Cogema, to try to get its controversial £473m Mox plant to operate properly. Last May, The Independent on Sunday exclusively reported that the plant at the Sellafield nuclear complex kept breaking down and had yet to produce a single finished product.
The plant, for producing nuclear fuel of mixed uranium and plutonium, is central to the Cumbrian complex's viability. Environmentalists always opposed it as a waste of money and a terrorist threat as it could cause plutonium, which could be made into nuclear bombs, to be shipped around the world.
But BNFL insisted on building the plant. It refused to disclose how it could become viable on the grounds, ironically, that this could give an advantage to Cogema.
Tony Blair personally pushed through the go-ahead for the plant in 2001, forcing Mr Meacher to give it permission to start up despite the then environment minister's protests. The Government then wrote off the £473m cost to the taxpayer of building the plant, but it is continuing to lose a fortune.
Mr Meacher said: "This is a public scandal of enormous proportions. How many schools and hospitals could we have built with the hundreds of millions of pounds that has been wasted?"
Mr Gummer said: "I was told that the Mox plant was safe and that Britain was the best place in the world to operate it because we knew most about it. Ministers have to rely on such advice, but we were clearly misinformed."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...