Sir: Even after the hushing up of the serious explosion at Dounreay and the accident at Wylfa you reported yesterday, it is only to be expected that officials of the nuclear industry will speak reassuringly about the culture of safety. Nuclear Electric was reported in January to have cut its staff by 5,000 and to be seeking to increase its market competitiveness by losing another 2,000 from the remaining 9,397. By contrast with the official line, trade union representatives expressed fears that these cuts might affect safety.
Ultimately, the safety of the industry depends on the experience, commitment and morale of the scientific and engineering staff. Will Nuclear Electric encourage them to talk openly about redundancies and short-term contracts of employment, so that the public may form its own opinion about the influence of anticipated privatisation on the culture of the industry?
D. E. Packham
School of Materials Science