The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has decided shut Sellafield’s Mox Plant in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, putting the plant’s 600 jobs at risk.
The NDA had signed contracts with Japanese customers in April 2010 to send recycled fuel from the plant. However, March’s earthquake and tsunami that led to the catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have subsequently raised doubts about the orders — Japan’s nuclear industry has been directly affected with shutdowns of facilities and reviews by the government affecting its requirements for nuclear fuel.
As a result the NDA Board decided to close the plant at the “earliest practical opportunity” to limit costs to the taxpayer.
Nuclear union Prospect expressed dismay at the government’s decision to close Sellafield’s Mox plant, saying the decision was ill-conceived and short-sighted.
Mox nuclear fuel allows uranium and plutonium to be recycled as part of what is called a closed fuel cycle strategy that reduces waste and prolongs fuel supplies. The reprocessing that separates re-usable uranium and plutonium from wastes takes place at Sellafield’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp).