The British government has published the latest report on the economic case for the operation of BNFL’s Sellafield MOX plant (SMP), marking the start of a four-week public consultation period. A news update summarising the report appears on page 12.

A decision on whether BNFL’s proposed MOX manufacture is justified will be made by Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Alan Milburn, the Secretary of State for Health, based on the report by consultants Arthur D Little (ADL), public comments and any other relevant information.

The ADL report says that the MOX plant, if allowed to go into operation, would give a financial benefit with a “net present value” (NPV) of £216 million to the UK over its lifetime. “Net present value” represents the value of a project in today’s money, calculated from its expected future costs and revenues. It concludes: “SMP will yield a net economic benefit.” BNFL welcomed the report. Chief executive Norman Askew said: “This report shows our economic case stands up to rigorous scrutiny and clearly demonstrates that the plant is in the national interest. It is now important that SMP is given the go-ahead as soon as this further consultation is over.” BNFL claims it has agreements covering the 40% “break even” sales level (see NEI June 2001, p12). Licensing SMP would also support reprocessing contracts for THORP. The ADL report points out that several hundred millions of pounds could be lost in the event of not proceeding with SMP. Cancellation would amount to a NPV of -£58 million.

Mr Askew added: “The plant is ready, our workforce is ready and we now want to deliver on the commitments we have made to our customers.”