The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has granted consent for the re-start of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) facility at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

“British Nuclear Group Sellafield (BNGSL), has done all the work necessary to ensure that THORP can be re-started and operated safely,” the agency said in a statement.

The work follows a leak of radioactive liquid inside a shielded facility within THORP for which BNG was prosecuted by the HSE and fined £500,000 ($1 million) plus costs. HSE will publish a report on its investigation into the leak at THORP shortly.

The Norwegian government has expressed dismay over the restart, suggesting instead that the facility should be shut down permanently.

The actual date for restart of reprocessing new fuel at THORP is a matter for BNG.

The plant has been shut down since April 2005, when a leak was discovered and in June, BNG pleaded guilty to breaching three conditions attached to the Sellafield site licence.

In a statement the NDA said it was pleased with the decision, but that a move to full production will only be authorised when BNG has shown that it is viable to do so with an outstanding issue over the capacity of evaporators elsewhere on the Sellafield site to handle liquid wastes from THORP.

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