Letter: Thorp decision to be challenged

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his statement to the House of Commons giving approval to radioactive discharges from British Nuclear Fuels's reprocessing facility, John Gummer stated that he was satisfied that 'there is a sufficient balance of advantage in favour of the operation of Thorp, and we are satisfied that the activities giving rise to the discharges permitted by the authorisation are justified'. This bland statement papers over a Whitehall crevasse full of inconsistencies and bureaucratic fudges that the Government needs to keep hidden in order to approve Thorp.

Mr Gummer failed to say that it is government policy to 'justify' any radioactive emissions. Thorp is a reprocessing facility, yet he says 'decisions about whether to use the authorisation in order to reprocess spent fuel are for others'. Who can he mean? The nuclear enthusiasts at the Department of Trade and Industry? BNFL? How can Mr Gummer think 'the activities' are justified when the only thing Thorp does is to reprocess spent fuel, and he has ignored reprocessing?

The truth is, of course, that reprocessing cannot be justified because it causes proliferation, environmental and health risks, for no benefit and no good purpose. Only by conjuring tricks to ignore this most basic question can Mr Gummer pull the white elephant out of the hat and approve Thorp's radioactive emissions while having no view about Thorp itself.

This is but one of many reasons why we shall continue to press for a public inquiry into Thorp, so that a proper decision can be taken after full and open debate, instead of a Whitehall stitch-up. As Mr Gummer has rejected a public inquiry, we shall take the case to the courts.

Yours faithfully,

PETER MELCHETT

Executive Director

Greenpeace UK

London, N1

15 December

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