Safety Problems Spur Brit Nuke Co. Changes

April 20, 2000
A state-run nuclear company in England replaced eight directors and hired a new safety chief following a critical government report and a series of problems at a reprocessing plant.

A state-run nuclear company in England on Tuesday replaced eight directors and hired a new safety chief following a critical government report and a series of problems at a reprocessing plant.

"This has been a wakeup call," said Norman Askew, the new chief executive of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.

Askew was appointed in February after a report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate complained of a "lack of safety culture" at the Sellafield reprocessing plant.

Despite its renewed dedication to safety, uncertainty remains over whether the northwest England plant can regain the confidence of foreign customers and resolve a current dispute with Japan.

In February, the plant was shut down after news that workers falsified records about the quality of consignment of uranium and plutonium mixed oxide fuel delivered to Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co.

Switzerland and Germany have halted fuel shipments to Sellafield since the revelation about the falsified consignment.

Five employees were fired, and all staff are undergoing retraining.

In a report called "Going Forward Safely," British Nuclear Fuels announced the shake-up of managers and management style, and the appointment of 70 extra staff to improve safety.

The company said it expects it will take up to two years to implement all of the recommended changes.

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