Government backs THORP but announces further consultation

Commissioning of THORP, the controversial new reprocessing facility at BNFL's Sellafield complex, has been delayed following a Government decision to consult further on the project. But the Government also made it clear in a House of Commons debate on 28 June that it is strongly behind THORP - provoking accusations that it is only carrying out a second consultation to secure itself against a challenge in the courts. Meanwhile, further challenges to the project have been mounted by several of the UK's neighbouring states and the Government's independent advisors on radioactive waste management.

The £2.8 billion plant is designed to reprocess uranium oxide fuel from advanced gas-cooled reactors to extract uranium and plutonium. In its first ten years' operation alone, BNFL plans to reprocess some 7,000 tonnes of fuel, mainly from the UK, Japan and Germany, producing some 60 tonnes of plutonium.

The plant was completed last year, but HM Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) refused to allow commissioning until a revised discharge

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