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Nuclear ‘incidents’

British government denies information about nuclear ‘incidents’ to placate American owners

An earlier PCU post reported:

On January 6th Her Majesty’s Government was asked about five incidents referred to in the Director of Civil Nuclear Security’s report The State of Security in the civil nuclear industry and the effectiveness of security regulation April 2008 to March 2009 that “warranted further investigation and subsequent follow up action”. The Minister of State refused to give it.

Despite an undertaking on the Sellafield website that ”Information will only be withheld when necessary and in line with legislation, taking into account public interest and protecting legitimate confidential information, such as personal and commercially sensitive information” the minister had refused to answer questions in Parliament about incidents which were clearly of interest to the public.

Two days earlier Nuclear Management Partners, a consortium of US, French and British companies was reported to have told ministers that it would walk away from the deal unless it was fully indemnified against the costs of cleaning up an accident at what is one of the world’s most hazardous nuclear sites.

VIP blogger has reminded PCU of an exemption rushed through in 2008:

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, is to exempt from the Freedom of Information Act the new US-led private consortia taking over the running of Britain’s biggest nuclear facility at Sellafield next Monday.

“The move comes on top of a decision by Malcolm Wicks, the former energy minister, to make the taxpayer liable for any accidents at Sellafield, which is in Cumbria, exempting the firm from the national requirement to pay the first £140m of any bill for leaks or radioactive contamination . . .

“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority confirmed yesterday that Sellafield Ltd – as the new organisation will be known – would be exempt from the FOI laws because it is a private company.

Surely private companies should be fully accountable for their actions?

Chief Scientific Adviser & Chagos fishing

Conflict of interest?

The Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG) Ltd was established in 1986 by Professor John Beddington, who is a renowned expert on marine fisheries.

Professor Beddington is the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. Upon taking his government position in 2008 he resigned his directorship but he still controls the company with a majority shareholding (50.1 per cent). The remainder are owned by his wife.

MRAG is opposing plans to create the world’s biggest marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Chagos Islands.

The company holds a government contract to manage fishing in the area, which would be banned if the reserve were created.


Background to removal of Chagos islanders summarised by MP Jeremy Corbyn, MP, Chair, Chagos Islands APPG. [Link no longer valid since times became subscription only].

From The Times

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// January 26, 2010

Don’t forget the role of Chagos Islanders

The Chagos Islanders want to be involved with the conservation and environmental protection of the islands

Sir, Your report (Jan 22) on the proposed Chagos Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) stated that 2,000 Chagos Islanders were “relocated” to Britain and Mauritius to make room for a US base on Diego Garcia. In fact, about 1,500 Chagossians, of whom some 700 survive, were moved against their will to Mauritius and Seychelles in the early 1970s.

How many would wish to return, and the nature of a resettlement on two atolls, 150 miles north of the US base, is impossible to determine at this stage. The Chagos Islanders want to be involved with the conservation and environmental protection of the islands. Careful management and planning can, at modest cost, avoid degradation of the environment.

The All Party Parliamentary Group has urged the FCO to commission a rapid independent study of the numbers who would wish to resettle and the practicalities of resettlement. Many Chagossians will not want to live permanently in the islands but they all want the right to visit their homeland at will. The way forward is to make provision in the proposed marine protected area for Chagossian interests (such as local fishing) and those of Mauritius. Conservation and human rights must go hand in hand. We urge the Government, before the election, to lift the ban imposed in 2004 on the return of the Chagos Islanders and so end this tragedy that has dogged the UK’s reputation for respect for human rights and its international obligations.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP, Chair, Chagos Islands APPG
Baroness Whitaker
Lord Luce
Lord Ramsbotham
Lord Steel of Aikwood
Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Andrew Rosindell, MP