Campaigners welcome decision to close Mox plant at Sellafield


IRISH CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the closure of the Mox nuclear fuel plant at the Sellafield complex on the west coast of Britain.

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced yesterday the Mox plant, on the coast in Cumbria, would close “at the earliest practical opportunity”.

It is one of several reprocessing plants at Sellafield that campaigners had hoped to see closed down.

The Sellafield Mox Plant was completed in 1997 and opened in 2001. It was set up to create mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants. Demands for the fuel have reduced significantly since the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in March which followed the earthquake and tsunami there.

The plant is to close over several months with the loss of 600 jobs.

The authority said the only reasonable course of action to ensure the British taxpayer did not carry the financial burden was to close the plant.

The decision was a commercial one and related only to the Mox facility, it said.

It said staff in the plant could be redeployed in Sellafield, particularly given development proposals across the site over coming years in the new “Sellafield Plan”. The plan includes possible new Mox plants at the facility.

Former Green Party senator Mark Dearey from Louth, who took legal action with three other campaigners against Sellafield’s then operators British Nuclear Fuels in 1994, said he welcomed the closure.

The campaigners had sought the closure of the Thorp plant, another nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, through a long-running legal battle.

The action eventually failed after the company successfully argued against the case on jurisdictional grounds.

“We welcome the decision taken today; the Mox plant was contributing to the inventory of emissions and increased health risks caused by Sellafield,” he said.

He said the plant was massively loss-making and events at Fukushima were “the final nail in the coffin” for it.

Mr Dearey said he hoped new plans for Sellafield would be reviewed given the Mox closure.

“Sellafield can never close; the waste has to stay there, but plans need to be developed to store it safely and there should be no more processing,” he said.