Thorp report suppressed by ministers

MINISTERS have been sitting for four months on an official report that undermines the case for the controversial Thorp reprocessing plant.

Senior civil servants say privately that publication of the report, part of which has been seen by the Independent on Sunday, has been held up to avoid embarrassing the Government, which will almost certainly give the go-ahead for the pounds 2.8bn plant this week.

Officials also admitted last week that key government departments failed to ask British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) for crucial documents about its plant throughout a year of 'public consultation' on its future.

A Conservative MP who was permanent private secretary to one of the Cabinet ministers making the decision is now demanding a public inquiry.

The suppressed report, on ministers' desks since August, gives unprecedented backing to the 'dry storage' of nuclear fuel, the alternative to reprocessing which Thorp's opponents have advocated for nearly two decades.

The report is embarrassing to the Government on two counts. It contradicts part of the case that ministers have put for Thorp. And it is the result of a public inquiry - which environmentalists are demanding before a final decision. The little-noticed inquiry - which opened in Dunbar, Lothian, more than a year ago - was held into an application by Scottish Nuclear, one of Thorp's biggest customers, to build dry storage for used fuel at its Torness station. Instead of being sent to Sellafield to be reprocessed into plutonium, uranium and nuclear waste, it would be stored.

Environmentalists have been arguing for dry storage since the mid-1970s because it causes less pollution and avoids the risk of nuclear proliferation.

While publicly supporting Thorp, Scottish Nuclear in fact plans to stop using the plant in 1996, and to store all its spent fuel instead. Robin Jeffrey, its managing director, says this would save his firm pounds 45m a year and 'bring down the cost of nuclear electricity in the UK'.

The inspector, R M Hickman, submitted his report to Ian Lang, the Scottish Secretary, in August. Scottish Nuclear says that it is 'confident' that the report comes down in favour of dry storage, and a senior civil servant said last week it was being suppressed 'because it would be very embarrassing if it came out at this stage'.

In his 'findings of fact', seen by the Independent on Sunday, the inspector refutes two key arguments in the case for Thorp - that reprocessing makes it easier to dispose of nuclear waste, and that even stored fuel would be reprocessed at some stage.

Dr Patrick Green, Nuclear Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said last week: 'The Government's suppression of the report has kept from the public vital information which calls the whole basis of Thorp into question. It shows that its public consultation is a sham.'

Tory MP Julian Brazier, who was parliamentary private secretary to Gillian Shephard, is calling for a public inquiry after reading in the Independent on Sunday that a Pentagon report concluded that Thorp would greatly increase the risk of nuclear proliferation.

BNFL says it abides by all national and international requirements for plutonium shipment.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride