Steps to project's go-ahead: Sellafield

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1946: Sellafield chosen as plutonium production site for UK's nuclear weapons programme.

1952: Radioactive discharges to the Irish Sea begin.

1956: The Queen opens Calder Hall nuclear power station.

1957: One of two 'Windscale Piles', military plutonium production reactors, catches fire.

1964: Reprocessing of fuel from civil Magnox reactors begins.

1971: British Nuclear Fuels Ltd is hived off from the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

1973: Explosion in the 'Head End Plant' contaminates building B204.

1975: BNFL approaches Tony Benn, then Secretary of State for Energy, about building the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant to replace the B204.

1976: Major radioactive leak at Windscale. Cumbria County Council approves Thorp.

1977: Windscale planning inquiry under Mr Justice Parker.

1978: Mr Justice Parker reports and approves the plant. Commons gives approval. 1979: Three Mile Island accident.

1981: Name is changed from Windscale to Sellafield.

1983: Work begins on facilities for spent fuel.

1985: Construction work begins on Thorp.

1986: Chernobyl accident.

1992 February: Thorp completed at a cost of pounds 1.85bn - pounds 1.9bn has been paid in advance by overseas customers. BNFL build pollution treatment plant costing more than pounds 1bn.

1992 November: Public consultations on Thorp.

1993 August: Second two-month period of public consultation opens.

1993, 15 December: Government gives plant go-ahead. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth mount legal challenges.