Unions call for long-term vision
Last updated at 11:19, Thursday, 15 August 2013
NUCLEAR unions are calling for urgent government action to safeguard Sellafield’s longer term future.
The Sellafield Workers’ Campaign says it’s vital for the site to get a new plutonium recycling plant before potentially thousands of jobs are put at risk through decommissioning and the planned closures of the Magnox and Thorp reprocessing plants.
Unions in the campaign – GMB, Unite and Prospect – are organising a top-level seminar to explore new plant possibilities.
Mox, Prism and Candu are plutonium recycling options to fuel the UK’s planned fleet of electricity-producing reactors.
Workers’ Campaign representatives, frustrated at lack of action so far, are bringing together prospective developers of all three recycling facilities. They want to shed light on what is likely to happen and what’s best for the site before it is too late.
The government’s preferred option is to re-use plutonium as Mox fuel.
But the Department of Energy is currently looking at studies carried out by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) into the credibility of alternatives such as Prism and Candu reactor proposals as well as an updated assessment of Mox.
The NDA hopes to provide more information in the autumn which is when the unions plan their seminar.
But Joe Murdock, Sellafield GMB convenor, told The Whitehaven News: “There’s been a lot of talk but no action. We need something to happen, a new plant or reactor is very important not only for the site but for the community, so it’s about time government has to step up to the mark.
“At the moment, we don’t know anything. Government stepped up to the mark and gave us the decision we’re looking for.”
Steve Nicholson, for Prospect staff union, said: “Sellafield has 120 tonnes of plutonium, it makes sense to use it in future to use it as an asset rather than treat as waste.
“Whatever it might be – Mox, Prism or Candu – it would bring community benefits and new jobs. With Magnox due to close at Sellafield around 2016 and Thorp in 2018, there is a massive skills gap to be filled. The time to act is now.
“We talked about this, amongst other things, to Baroness Verma when she came up last week.”
Recycled plutonium could have a ready market in fuelling the UK’s new nuclear reactor fleet, including the planned Moorside power station right next door to the site.
Mr Nicholson added: “If we’re going to provide electricity for the national grid by 2023, and stop the lights going out, then we need to see NuGen cutting a sod at Moorside in 2015.”
He warned that as many as 5,000 jobs could be under threat unless Sellafield gets a major new development – and it would impact badly on the community.
Six-hundred jobs were at risk when the Sellafield Mox plant, which recycled plutonium mainly for the Japanese, was forced to close in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster, but it was possible to re-locate all the workers elsewhere on the site.
John Clarke, chief executive of the NDA, wants to meet Sellafield unions to talk about how the site might be run in the future.
His request followed last week’s story in The Whitehaven News which described what options the NDA is considering.
The Authority says it will make a decision by the end of September but as yet has no preferred choice.
The NDA had no comment to make on Mr Clarke’s meeting with the site union representatives.
First published at 11:15, Thursday, 15 August 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Observer nails it again, great commentary.The comment from Dave about the NDA and future of Sellafield is also very true. I spent 16 years at Sellafield and left before the rot started. This meant moving to another county, however I have a much better job (both in salary and conditions). I do feel that the people of West Cumbria are reliant on one industry based on one site. Even worse, there is a them and us culture in West Cumbria, those that work inside the fence and those that don't. I fear for the long term fortune of West Cumbria, as Sellafield slows down and less and less people are required. What is going to happen to the area? I actually believe that Nuclear power is an answer for future energy demands, however given recent events around the world and the ever stronger push for renewables I fear that nuclear new build could be a generation away. Can West Cumbria survive that long?
I think they should refurbish thorp and sporting plantsbuild new mox and prism reactor then look for more reprocessing contracts so when we as a country
are in a financial crisis and aking large cuts that would mean revenue for the NDA to help decommissioning all off its nuclear site puls it would only be good nes for the economy of Cumbria wicth relys on sellafiled so much the 65% of Cumbria economy is because of sellafiled so who is with me soporting a future for Cumbria that is evolved around new build
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