Dangerous and costly leak at Sellafield


A leak, described as Britainís most serious nuclear incident in 13 years by the main editorial in The Independent (29th May), has occurred at the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield.83,000 litres of highly radioactive liquid from used nuclear fuel leaked from a pipe deep in the bowels of the reactor, and went undetected and accumulating for up to nine months, despite warning signs!Readers will be well aware of the controversy surrounding the building of the plant, which extracts plutonium from spent reactor rods from nuclear plants worldwide, and then transports to the original sender this unimaginably dangerous fissionable material as MOX reactor fuel.

The article comments that the United States had long abandoned reprocessing, but the DTI, which owns Sellafield, pressed stubbornly on, despite the cost of the structure, the dangers it created from possible terrorist strike, the production of plutonium into a world that where there is too much already, the looming cost of decommissioning, etc.


This leak will cost millions in lost production whilst the plant is closed, in addition to the cost of the cleanup which, because of its nature, must be carried out by specially designed robots.


In view of the original decision to build the costly plant by the DTI in the teeth of strong protest from the peace movement and elsewhere, it is not possible to have any confidence that the disastrous plant will be shut down, as it certainly deserves to be.

Thanks to Lib Rowlands-Hughes, our doughty Wales correspondent, who drew my attention to all this.