Letter: Risks and rewards of nuclear power

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The Independent Online
Sir: You suggest (29 June) that BNFL's German and Japanese customers would be 'furious if the Thorp programme were to be shelved at this late date'. Not true. While there are a few diehards in Germany who remain keen on using the plutonium separated by reprocessing, most German industrialists would shed no tears over the abandonment of Thorp.

The situation in Japan is more complicated. No one in Japan looks forward with pleasure to the return of the plutonium and nuclear wastes extracted by Thorp. The Japanese government would be especially relieved to escape the political troubles that the transport and stockpiling of plutonium are bringing it. There are nevertheless worries in some quarters that the cancellation of Thorp could spell trouble for Japan's plans to build its own reprocessing plant at Rokkasho-mura.

However, the German and Japanese customers would indeed be furious if Thorp was cancelled and the British government insisted on the immediate return of the spent fuel already delivered to Sellafield. There is a deal to be done: Germany and Japan would not press their claims for repayment of the money they have invested in Thorp, while Britain would continue storing the spent fuels at Sellafield for at least 10 years subject to its eventual return.

Yours sincerely,

WILLIAM WALKER

Senior Fellow

Science Policy Research Unit

Falmer, Brighton

29 June

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