Mox Plant to create jobs in West Cumbria?

Engineering Jobs and Vacancies in Cumbria.

Could replacing the Sellafield Mox Plant create thousands of jobs in Cumbria and could it benefit areas such as Workington , Whitehaven, Ulverston and Barrow?

Around £5000 new jobs could be created if a new plant is built at Sellafield. Copeland MP Jamie Reed last night told the government the fuel manufacturing plant could sit alongside the existing Mox facility.

The Evening Mail revealed in February that the decade –old Mox plant at Sellafield could be in line for the axe. But the Millom MP, told climate change minister David Kidney that the UK could not move forward without the Mox plant – and action needed to be taken. And he predicted the plan could bring £1bn investment to west Cumbria if his plan becomes a reality.

Building a new fuel manufacturing plant at Sellafield would create thousands of jobs and £1bn punds of investment, the government was last night told.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed told the House of Commons the plant could sit alongside the existing Mox facility. The Evening Mail revealed in February that the decade-old Mox plant at Sellafield could be in line for the axe. But Mr Reed told climate change minister David Kidney that the UK could not move forward without the Mox plant – and action needed to be taken. And the move would help Britain secure its own energy needs and stop reliance on other countries, he said.

Mr Reed said despite significant processing problems at the Mox plant £5000 new jobs could be created. He told MPs there was interest from companies prepared to invest in the new facility and whatever past problems there has been , using plutonium and uranium oxides to create fuel was “unquestionable the right police”. He said “the Sellafield Mox Plant hosts a unique array of skilled workers with incredible technical, scientific and engineering competence sand these skills and abilities must not be lost on the Sellafield site or to the industry as a whole. Closing Sellafield Mox Plant without a replacement facility is not an option. It has underperformed but has a use until such time as a new Mox plant is built at Sellafield.

“There is no credible case for pursuing an alternative policy on environmental grounds , on economic grounds, on grounds of national energy security and on grounds of effectively pursuing global non proliferation policies.” He told Mr Kidney that Britain can only play its part in speeding up nuclear disarmament and secuting energy supply with Sellafield, Thorp and the Mox plant or its successor. Plutonium must also be seen as an asset as branding it as a waste could jeopardise geological repository which in itself would mean investment.

Mr Reed slammed Tory cut proposals for public spending as “entirely ignorant” given that Sellafield is largely funded by the tax payer. He said any cuts would lead to larger bills in future with decommissioning delayed, on top of environmental issues. Mr Reed said “nobody of integrity, knowledge or honesty could possibly hope to sell such a ridiculous proposal to my constituents and the Sellafield work force. “If the policy platform of using the Sellafield plutonium stockpile as a valuable commodity in a new facility is followed, the cost of operating Sellafield could by significantly reduced and the clean up accelerated. “Energy security, Co2 emission reductions, world leadership in non proliferation, massive benefits to the tax payer and my constituents and the opportunity to earn billions of pounds for the UK. It is there for the taking – let’s get on with it.”

Mr Kidney said constituents “should be proud” of their MP for lobbying at every given opportunity. He said nuclear energy was a renaissance and Britain had to make sure it was taking advantage of it.

Alan Westnedge, North West regional officer for the Unite Union, which represents hundreds of workers at Sellafield says the Mox (mix oxide) plant takes plutonium from used nuclear fuel, which is traditional stored, and mixes it with uranium. This process creates new fuel which can then be used again. Mr Westnedge said “as a union, we would welcome the build of a new Mox plant. It would secure the nuclear cycle and we are keen to make sure the reprocessing continues and the Mox plant is an integral part of that process. It is a case of the old fuel in , the new fuel out.”

The other two unions at Sellafield, GMB and Prospect, were unavailable for comment as was Martin Forwood from anti nuclear action group Cumbrians Opposed to Radioactive Environment (CORE). Martin Forwood, leader of anti nuclear group CORE said “this death wish he (Jamie Reed, MP) , has for West Cumbria, more reprocessing, is something that can’t be substantiated, if you look at Sellafield’s records. “Who is going to give money to a reprocessing plant that doesn’t work? Who is going to build a Mox plant when the demand for Mox fuel isn’t there? He is living on a different planet.”

North West Evening Mail, p1,2, 3, Thursday 2 July 2009