From confrontation to cooperation: How UK - Norway dialogue on Sellafield has been a big success

Posted On: 
3rd June 2019

Sellafield Ltd’s Corporate Affairs manager Jamie Reed reflects on 18 years of successful dialogue between UK Government officials & representatives of the nuclear industry with Norwegian NGOs and nuclear regulator, local government and communities.

An agreement of understanding signed between Adrian Simper, Strategy Director from the NDA and Pål Mikkelsen Chief Executive Officer, Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND).
Credit: 
Bellona

Stakeholders from UK and Norway concluded 18 years of successful dialogue on the impact of the Sellafield site on Norway, at recent conferences in Oslo and the Lofoten Islands.

The conferences were attended by UK Government officials and representatives of the nuclear industry, Norwegian NGOs and nuclear regulator, local government and communities.

Jamie Reed, Sellafield Ltd’s Corporate Affairs manager attended the final conference and reflected on the journey taken by all participants over the past few decades.

He said: Since 2003 all parties have agreed in a common goal – a safe Sellafield. At first there wasn’t a lot of trust about only suspicion and fear. 

From an early stage we set out to get a better understanding of Norwegian and Nordic concerns. Through regular engagement and visits to Sellafield we have tried to give our Norwegian stakeholders a better understanding of Sellafield and our plans for the site. We have moved from confrontation in the early days to greater consensus and now to a situation where we are helping the Norewegians with their nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management programme. 

Although we have not always agreed, we have treated each others views with the utmost respect. We have tried to develop trust and confidence in how the site is being operated.”

This year’s conference heard about the on-going plans for decommissioning the site, focusing on the significant reduction in hazards and how reprocessing, a contentious issue for the Norwegians is scheduled to finish at the end of 2020.

All those involved in the dialogue, including non governmental organisations and representatives from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd, agree that it has been a unique experience based on listening, learning and understanding of each others ambitions and apprehensions. 

The Norwegian protests started in Lofoten with the formation of Lofoten mot Sellafield, whose challenge to Sellafield was ‘We want to know and we will act if necessary’. We have moved such a long way since then.”

The first conference at Whitehaven lay the foundation for constructive engagement. There has since been twelve jointly managed annual events (InfoArena) designed to provide a platform for all to express their interests and concerns, and get answers to their questions. 

Delegates have included representatives from Norway, the UK, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland and as far away as Japan. Norwegian Ministers as well as British and Norwegian Ambassadors have also participated in the dialogue.

Discussions led to the successful technological solution to discharges from the Sellafield site to the sea that were being detected around the Norwegian coast. 

 The real value of the conferences since then has been the development of greater openess and transparency. Engagement has provided a forum for exchanging information and views from a wide range of stakeholders. More recently the dialogue sowed the seeds for new cooperation between the two nations on nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management. ”   

Jamie reflected how "honesty is what we celebrate. I am very proud to have been part of this dialogue, working together there is nothing we can’t achieve".