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Problems Spur Brit Nuke Co. Changes

April 18, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ A state-run nuclear company on Tuesday replaced eight directors and hired a new safety chief following a critical government report and a series of problems at a reprocessing plant.

``This has been a wakeup call,″ said Norman Askew, the new chief executive of the state-run company, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.

Askew was appointed in February after a report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate complained of a ``lack of safety culture″ at the Sellafield reprocessing plant.

However, uncertainty remained over whether the northwest England plant can regain the confidence of foreign customers and resolve a current dispute with Japan, which bought a consignment of fuel with falsified records.

In February, the plant was shut down after news that workers falsified records about the quality of the consignment of uranium and plutonium mixed oxide fuel delivered to Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Company.

Switzerland and Germany have halted fuel shipments to Sellafield since the revelation about the falsified consignment _ which Japan wants to send back.

Five employees were fired, and all staff are undergoing retraining.

In a report called Going Forward Safely, British Nuclear Fuels announced the shake-up of managers and management style, and the appointment of 70 extra staff to improve safety.

Askew, who said it would take up to two years to implement all the recommended changes, did not rule out taking back the consignment from Japan.

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