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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 13:13 GMT
'Rotten' Sellafield sparks fury

The plant has been targeted by campaigners

Energy Minister Helen Liddell has led calls for a thorough review of the Sellafield nuclear plant after the publication of a damning safety report.

The whole plutonium business is rotten to the core
Greenpeace's Peter Roche
She said she was "incensed" at how things had gone so badly wrong at Sellafield and demanded "a root and branch" review of the plant.

Jack Cunningham, the former Cabinet Office minister and Labour MP for Copeland, in which the plant is located, said the scandal had thrown the future of Britain's nuclear industry into doubt.

"I'm particularly angry these mindless and thoughtless actions have jeopardised not only the jobs of the people directly involved, but many, many thousands of their fellow workers in the industry," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Trade and Industry, which has been looking into the problems at BNFL, demanded that anyone responsible for risking safety be dismissed.

Jack Cunningham says management must be responsible Jack Cunningham: Management must be responsible
Union officials described the safety reports as "devastating" and demanded changes in the safety culture at the Cumbrian site.

Jack Dromey, national officer of the Transport and General Workers' Union, warned that a failure to act on the reports threatened the future of the state-owned company, which employs 20,000 workers.

"Old habits at Sellafield die hard. The company must bear the brunt of the blame for the fragmentation of the management and irresponsible cuts to manning levels."

Brian Strutton, national officer of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union, said the company must now demonstrate that all safety and quality systems were "totally robust".

Environmental campaigners have also condemned the findings.

Greenpeace said it was time for the government to end nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield.

"The whole plutonium business is rotten to the core," said spokesman Peter Roche.

Friends of the Earth said it too believed that BNFL needed to change its core business.

'Damning indictment'

Dr Patrick Green, senior nuclear campaigner at FoE, said: "This is a damning indictment of a management culture that has led to the aggravation of problems rather than solving them.

"BNFL now faces a choice - it can either continue down its existing path, which will lead to the creation of more radioactive waste and more problems and ultimately its business will fail.

"Or it can start to reconstitute itself and turn itself into a centre of excellence for nuclear waste management, decommissioning and clean up."

BNFL, which runs the plant, said it fully accepted the reports and their recommendations and said actions were already under way to improve the safety culture.

Five workers have so far been dismissed over the scandal - three in October and two more last Tuesday.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  UK
Nuclear plant safety condemned
18 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan vents fury on BNFL
18 Feb 00 |  UK
Nuclear industry 'under threat'

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