CUMBRIA’s Sellafield plant has been hit in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The reprocessing facility is being forced to maintain the world’s biggest mountain of reprocessed plutonium because no other country will take the waste.

Hopes that the Sellafield waste could be reduced were dashed after the near-meltdown at Fukushima led to a freeze in the international trade of reprocessed nuclear fuel.

Significantly, this included the postponement of a shipment of French-made mixed-oxide (Mox) nuclear fuel that would have been transported to Japan on British vessels from Sellafield.

The Fukushima crisis follows Japan’s ongoing concerns about production problems at the Sellafield Mox Plant (SMP). Ten Japanese power companies have said they would not now take any reprocessed fuel from Britain until at least the end of the decade.

This could plunge Sellafield into a financial crisis, putting a question mark over its long-term viability, especially the wisdom of continuing with plans for a new and bigger Mox plant at the site.

Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to Radioactive Environment, said: “The initial signs are that as a result of increased pressure in Japan to abandon the use of plutonium fuel in their reactors, Sellafield business could be hit.

“If the Japanese public says no to Mox use, then Sellafield will lose much of its business with Japan.”

A spokesman at the plant said: “There has been nothing said by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Japanese customers to suggest that their support for SMP is under any threat and suggesting anything to the contrary is simply factually incorrect.”