BNFL makes plans for eight nuclear transports annually

Publish date: September 20, 2002

Written by: Erik Martiniussen

Returning from its voyage halfway around the planet, five tons of plutonium fuel arrived at its place of origin; the Sellafield plant. In the future, possibilities are we will see eight such transports annually.

The British government-owned nuclear company British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), admits now that we might see as much as eight such plutonium transports annually in the future. The reason for these transports is the scandal-ridden facility on the Sellafield plant, which produces plutonium fuel (MOX) for commercial use.

Major protests

The disclosure is made on the same day as BNFL receives five tonnes of MOX fuel from Japan. The plutonium fuel was originally sold and transported to Japan in 1999, but after it was revealed that BNFL had falsified the security analysis of the MOX fuel, BNFL was requested to bring it back.

The transports have been subject to massive international criticism. A number of countries have denied the transport ships admission to go by their economical zones, and Greenpeace’s largest ship, Esmeralda, has followed the transport almost on its entire route from Japan. When the transport entered the Irish Sea it was met by a large fleet of small boats showing their opposition to the transport. Ireland is of the opinion that the British has infringed their commitments settled by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the transports represent a serious disagreement between the two countries.

Starts with Switzerland

Now even more transports to and from the Sellafield plant are likely to take place. According to the Director General of BNFL, Norman Askew, 40 percent of the forthcoming agreements of the MOX plant are with foreign countries. The first transport will go to Switzerland in mid-2003. According to the British daily the Guardian, Germany, Belgium and France are next on the list, but new contracts with Japan is also expected.

So far Norway has not filed a formal complaint against the planned transports. Protests from Norway are however expected to arise if BNFL is to take use of the Northeast-passage and the Barents Sea as transport route for their controversial nuclear transports.

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