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."
- 1 Secret Cinema interview: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: John Prescott condemns bombardment of Gaza as a 'war crime'
Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
Israel-Gaza conflict: President Obama presses Netanyahu to call ‘immediate and unconditional’ Gaza ceasefire
Lauren Goodger calls for tougher laws on revenge porn after sex tape leaks online
Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 Teacher Would yo...
£100 - £120 per day + key stage 1, key stage 2: Randstad Education Chelmsford:...
£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...