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The BBC's Tim Hirsch
It will bring in a single set of safety rules"
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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Safety overhaul at Sellafield
Sellafield: Bureaucracy under attack
Sweeping changes in safety procedures are being planned at the Sellafield nuclear plant, the BBC has learned.

The move by British Nuclear Fuel Limited (BNFL) follows a damning report made by safety inspectors two months ago, which concluded that rules were overcomplicated and confusing.

The government must step in to stop the reprocessing business

Now the company is planning a shake-up of management and a single rulebook for the entire sprawling complex.

Greenpeace said the changes, to be announced on Tuesday, were too inadequate to allay safety fears and repeated its calls for an end to nuclear reprocessing at the plant.

A Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) report found there was a "lack of safety culture" at Sellafield and revealed there had been widespread falsification of safety data on mixed uranium and plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel delivered to Japan's Kansai Electric.

Shipments halted

Going Forward Safely will set out a two-year action plan which, it is hoped, will renew confidence in the plant.

BNFL Chief Executive John Taylor has already been replaced by Norman Askew and Sellafield has been dealt a number of blows following the NII's report.

Switzerland and Germany have halted fuel shipments to Sellafield and Japan has demanded its nuclear waste consignments are brought back to Britain.

And this month the government halted plans to privatise Sellafield for at least two years.

Brian Strutton, national officer at the GMB union which represents most of the workers at the plant, said: "We believe that this is a positive and decisive response to the NII criticism.

"BNFL needed to show they were prepared to tackle head-on the problems identified by the inspectorate and this report shows the company has had the courage to grasp the nettle and make the tough decisions necessary to restore confidence in Sellafield and its operating process."

Mr Strutton said he hoped the NII would now work with staff and managers at the plant to ensure its long term future.

But Dr Helen Wallace of Greenpeace told the BBC that Sellafield's £12bn nuclear reprocessing business, which led to the dumping of nuclear waste into the sea and to nuclear waste on the site, had to stop.

"There have been continuing revelations since the NII report into safety and environmental issues so simply reshuffling the management and addressing the inspectorate's concerns won't be enough to set BNFL's business back on track.

"The government must step in to stop the reprocessing business and set BNFL on a new direction to responsibly manage and monitor nuclear waste at Sellafield, not make the matter worse."

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14 Apr 00 | UK
Sellafield: We're safe
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