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The BBC's Stephen Evans
"In Japan and now Germany they remain unconvinced"
 real 28k

The BBC's Rob Broomby in Berlin
"The suspension of shipments would remain in effect until the necessary security standards were met"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 18:33 GMT
German ban on Sellafield fuel stays
Sellafield plant
Japan has also banned imports from Sellafield
The German government has banned imports of nuclear fuel rods from the UK's troubled Sellafield reprocessing plant because of safety concerns.

In a statement, Germany said the ban would remain in force until it had been established "beyond doubt" that all necessary checks were taking place.

Sellafield in Crisis
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BNFL's troubled history
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Environment minister Juergen Trittin said in a statement he had asked officials from British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), which runs the plant, for talks on the matter next week.

Last month BNFL admitted workers checking the size of mixed plutonium and uranium oxide (Mox) fuel pellets for a consignment for Japan had used old figures instead of monitoring every pellet.

Japan suspended all Mox imports from the UK as a result, and BNFL Chief Executive John Taylor resigned.

Germany, along with Switzerland, is the other principal proposed market for the Mox fuel.

Shut-down threat

The German electricity generating company PreussenElektra said on 24 February it was shutting down its Unterweser nuclear power plant, in order to remove fuel rods that came from Sellafield.

The mixed oxide plant at Sellafield where the falsification of documents took place has been closed since news of the scandal emerged.

The Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, Laurence Williams, threatened in a report on the affair last month to shut down Sellafield if BNFL did not fulfil a raft of 28 safety recommendations.

A spokesman for BNFL on Wednesday said: "A spokesman for the German environment ministry announced this temporary suspension on 23 February, whilst acknowledging that no Mox deliveries were due anyway.

'Long job'

"We are confident that the corrective measures requested by the Health and Safety Executive can be implemented before any further deliveries will fall due."

Environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the German ban as "a good first step to ending Britain's plutonium trade for good".

Campaigner Dr Helen Wallace said the UK government should now end reprocessing at the Sellafield.

However, nuclear expert Malcolm Grimston told BBC News 24 that although BNFL has made "a serious mistake", it could recover.

"I am sure confidence can be restored but it is going to be a long job," he said.

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06 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Nuclear workers sacked for fake checks
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