News

DATE=4/22/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-40121
TITLE=BRITAIN / NUCLEAR FUEL-CQ
BYLINE=ANDRE DE NESNERA
DATELINE=LONDON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT HAS DEFENDED ITS DECISION TO ALLOW
NUCLEAR MATERIAL FROM THE FORMER SOVIET UNION TO BE REPROCESSED 
IN SCOTLAND.  BUT AS V-O-A CORRESPONDENT ANDRE DE NESNERA REPORTS
FROM LONDON, ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ARE FURIOUS. 

TEXT:  BRITISH OFFICIALS SAY PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR AGREED TO 
TAKE THE FIVE KILOGRAMS OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM AND SPENT 
NUCLEAR FUEL WHEN HE VISITED WASHINGTON SEVERAL MONTHS AGO.  THE 
NUCLEAR MATERIAL IS CURRENTLY STORED IN A RESEARCH REACTOR 
OUTSIDE TBILISSI, THE CAPITAL OF GEORGIA.  

THE WEAPONS GRADE URANIUM IS  NOT  DANGEROUS AS SUCH.  BUT 
AMERICAN AND BRITISH OFFICIALS SAY IF IT WERE STOLEN BY 
TERRORISTS, IT COULD BE USED TO PRODUCE A NUCLEAR BOMB.

BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY ROBIN COOK DEFENDED THE MOVE, SAYING 
THE UNITED STATES HAS ALREADY TAKEN 600 KILOGRAMS OF NUCLEAR 
MATERIAL FROM KAZAKHSTAN.  SPEAKING ON BRITISH RADIO, HE REPEATED
THE POSSIBILE TERRORIST THREAT.

                       ///  COOK ACT  ///

         IF THIS MATERIAL WAS TO BE USED IN A NUCLEAR WEAPON IN 
         THE MIDDLE EAST, THEN BRITAIN AND EUROPE WOULD GET FAR 
         MORE THAN ONE PERCENT OF THE RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT AND 
         THEREFORE, TAKING ONE PERCENT OF THE PROBLEM IS  NOT  A 
         BAD BARGAIN, IN MY POINT OF VIEW.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

THE NUCLEAR MATERIAL IS TO BE SHIPPED TO A REPROCESSING PLANT IN 
DOUNREAY, ON SCOTLAND'S NORTHERN COAST -- A PLANT CURRENTLY 
UNDERGOING A REVIEW OF ITS SAFETY PROCEDURES.  THE EXACT DATE OF 
THE ARRIVAL HAS  NOT  BEEN REVEALED. 

MOST OF THE MATERIAL WILL BE USED TO MAKE MEDICAL ISOTOPES FOR 
THE TREATMENT OF CANCER.  AND THE REST -- LESS THAN ONE KILOGRAM 
OF SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL -- WILL BE REPROCESSED.

BRITISH ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ARE OUTRAGED AT THE BRITISH 
GOVERNMENT'S DECISION, SINCE RUSSIA, FRANCE, AND THE UNITED 
STATES ALL REFUSED TO TAKE THE NUCLEAR MATERIAL.  THE GROUP 
'GREENPEACE' DESCRIBED THE BRITISH MOVE AS "A DANGEROUS AND 
ILL-CONCEIVED PLAN."  

THE RESEARCH DIRECTOR FOR THE GROUP 'FRIENDS OF THE EARTH', 
RICHARD DIXON, SAYS DOUNREAY IS  NOT  AN IDEAL PLACE FOR 
DISPOSING OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL.

                       ///  DIXON ACT  ///

         AT THE MOMENT, IT HAS GOT TWO REPROCESSING FACILITIES, 
         BOTH OF WHICH ARE SHUT DOWN.  THEY ARE JUST  NOT  
         ALLOWED TO OPERATE AT THE MOMENT, AND THEY ARE STILL 
         WAITING FOR PERMISSION TO RESTART.  IT HAS HAD ALL KINDS
         OF POLLUTION PROBLEMS.  IT HAS HAD AN EXPLOSION IN THE 
         1970'S IN A WASTESHAFT.  THERE HAS BEEN MISMANAGEMENT, 
         SO WE DO  NOT  KNOW WHAT IS IN SOME OF THE WASTE 
         FACILITIES.  AND THERE HAVE BEEN 'HOT' PARTICLES, 
         RADIOACTIVE PARTICLES, TURNING UP ON THE BEACH, ACTUALLY
         OUTSIDE THE SITE.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

///  OPT  ///   MR. DIXON ALSO QUESTIONS WHETHER THE SPENT 
NUCLEAR FUEL SHOULD BE REPROCESSED.

                ///  OPT  //  2ND DIXON ACT  /// 

         THERE IS A FRACTION OF THE WASTE THAT THEY WOULD INTEND 
         TO REPROCESS AT DOUNREAY.  BUT WE DO  NOT  SEE THERE IS 
         ANY NEED FOR THAT BECAUSE THERE IS ALREADY A GLUT OF 
         URANIUM ON THE MARKET AND REPROCESSING CREATES A LOT 
         MORE WASTE IN THE PROCESS.  SO WE THINK THAT THIS STUFF 
         SHOULD BE STORED ABOVE GROUND, WHERE IT COULD BE 
         MONITORED AND AT THE MOMENT, THIS IS THE ONLY KIND OF 
         SOLUTION FOR THIS KIND OF WASTE.

                 ///  END ACT  //  END OPT  ///

RICHARD DIXON FROM 'FRIENDS OF THE EARTH' SAYS THERE ARE A LOT OF
FACILITIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHERE THE NUCLEAR FUEL CAN BE 
STORED -- PLANTS WHICH ARE FAR SAFER AND BETTER REGULATED THAN 
THE ONE IN DOUNREAY, SCOTLAND.  (SIGNED)

NEB/ADEN/JWH

22-Apr-98 11:30 AM EDT (1530 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.