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Switzerland suspends nuclear shipments to Britain

Switzerland's Federal Nuclear Energy Inspectorate has suspended all shipments of nuclear fuel rods to Britain's Sellafield reprocessing plant, following growing concerns over security lapses.

Switzerland’s Federal Nuclear Energy Inspectorate has suspended all shipments of nuclear fuel rods to Britain’s Sellafield reprocessing plant, following growing concerns over security lapses.

The institute says it will only allow shipments to resume once the British have shown significant improvements to Sellafield’s safety record. Similar bans have been imposed by Germany and Sweden.

Sellafield was closed last month by Britain’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, after a highly critical report which said workers deliberately falsified records relating to the quality of uranium and plutonium mixed oxide fuel bound for Japan.

Environmental groups in Switzerland say the decision to halt shipments is long overdue. Greenpeace has been campaigning against Sellafield and a French plant, in La Hague, for many years, saying they are a source of serious nuclear pollution, and increasing the instance of diseases such as leukaemia.

However, the Swiss nuclear authorities said their decision was taken independently of the environmentalists’ campaign. They also said the nuclear fuel rods pose no danger to the public.

A spokesman for the Swiss branch of Greenpeace welcomed the suspension of transports, but said that by sending its fuel rods abroad for recycling, the country was contributing to the problem.

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