Sir: Peter Taylor's article 'An entirely credible catastrophe' (Science, 1 November) stretches credibility to the limit. In the event of a power failure to the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) at Sellafield, there would be no release of activity, even if no action was taken to rectify the situation for a considerable time. Of course, action would be taken. Thorp is not dependent upon hi-tech safety devices to prevent the boiling of liquids in the plant. Not surprisingly, though, the plant is well supplied with alternative supplies of electricity.
The operation of Thorp will obviously influence the volume of liquid waste awaiting vitrification on the Sellafield site. However, contrary to the impression given by Mr Taylor, preventing the operation of Thorp would not materially alter the current storage arrangements on site.
Director, Thorp Division
British Nuclear Fuels