BNFL boss quits

The chief executive of British Nuclear Fuels John Taylor resigned over the weekend following the HSE’s recent damning report over the falsification of quality data at Sellafield.

The move has been welcomed by secretary of state for trade and industry Stephen Byers, who said it was the ‘appropriate course of action.’

Five workers involved in the document falsification have already been sacked, and Taylor’s dismissal will prompt a wider shake-up at senior management level. In its report, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate accoused the Sellafield operation of ‘systematic management failures.’ It has now given BNFL two months to draw up plans to meet 28 recommendations to increase safety and resolve management problems.

The crisis at Sellafield looks certain to delay the proposed privatisation of BNFL by at least a year, with wide-ranging changes proposed by the NII demanding physical alterations to the plant to remove human error from the quality assurance process – changes which could take at least six months to take effect. The company is also unlikely to know before 2001 whether or not it will have to pay to bring back the fuel sent to Japan, as its customer Kansai Electric has been demanding.

The government has been planning to raise £1.5bn through privatisation of the plant.