Nuclear recycling plant a waste of money

May 15, 2009 at 4:10 pm

There has been widespread condemnation of the Mox (Mixed-oxide) nuclear plant at Sellafield after it was revealed that the plant has become a huge white elephant costing the taxpayer billions.

The plant was constructed with the promise of converting unusable nuclear waste into a usable fuel, with the promise of delivering 120 tonnes of fuel a year. It sounded like a perfect way to help to deliver upon the country’s greenhouse gas targets, as nuclear fuel is expected to play a large role in that.

If running properly, the plant was to have generated a profit of £200 million throughout its lifetime, even though there were concerns voiced about its cost when it was built.

However, the reality has just been exposed, and it is not pretty. After seven years of operating, the plant has managed to produce just 6.3 tonnes of fuel, well below what was required. And on top of that, the costs have been astronomical. £626 million has been spent in operating costs alone, and £637 million extra has been spent on construction and commission costs.

This is all very bad news indeed for the government, not just because it does not go any way towards helping their green house gas emission targets, but because there are now calls for a public enquiry, and the word ‘scandal’ is not far from many people’s lips.

Michael Meacher is a Labour MP who was against the plant from the start, and even tried to block its approval while he was the Environment Secretary. He is quoted in The Independent as saying it is an “unforgivable” waste of taxpayers’ money.

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