Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further memorandum submitted by Nirex

  Thank you for your letter dated 27 November.

  On reflection, there are three things that I would like to draw to the Committee's attention.

  1.  There was some discussion about progress made in Finland and Sweden. Nirex believe there are real lessons to be learned from their experience and would suggest that it would be useful for the Committee to meet representatives from SKB (Sweden) and Posiva (Finland) to get a direct input from them. This could be done either by visiting Sweden and Finland or by inviting them across to the UK.

  The role of parliamentarians and local politicians in both the Swedish and Finnish cases might also be explored and, again, introductions could be effected through our sister organisations if this would be helpful.

  2.  Given the Committee's interest in the previous site selection process, I would like to expand on my response about the naming of the shortlisted sites.

  As explained to the Committee, and in accordance with government policy, Nirex is not currently in a position to provide this information. Nonetheless we appreciate that there is a case for release of this information and, as such, previous requests have been referred to an independent Transparency Review Panel under the Nirex appeals procedure.

  To respond to these requests the independent Transparency Review Panel has asked that Nirex seek clarification from the DTI as to whether government policy on release of this information needs to be updated, specifically in the light of moves to prepare for the Freedom of Information Act. Consequently, Nirex has written to the DTI. A copy of the relevant letter is enclosed.

  3.  One very important element to Nirex's work which was not discussed during our Oral evidence, but which will be of interest to the Committee in considering safety and liability matters, is the actual role that Nirex performs at the end of the nuclear cycle in issuing packaging standards, specifications and Letters of Comfort.

  The Committee may be interested to know that, subsequent to our appearance at the Select Committee, the Nirex Board has taken two significant decisions. The first being that Sir Ken Jackson has been appointed as chairman of Nirex, and the second is that the Board has decided that Nirex's input to the DEFRA consultation should propose that Nirex become an independent body.

  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to pursue any of the points raised above, or have any subsequent queries.


December 2001

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