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BENN ON THE DOUNREAY NUCLEAR PLANT: 1967

 

The Sunday Times, 19 November 1967, p. 2

(Bryan Silcock and Cal McCrystal, reporters)

 

‘The attack last week by Mr. Wedgwood Benn, Minister of Technology, on the American Westinghouse Electric Corporation was far more than a melodramatic appeal to British nuclear scientists to stay at home.

 

‘. . . By revealing officially for the first time that Westinghouse had tried to acquire a licence for British fast reactor know-how, the Minister proved that the American company was interested more in specific information than in making good their shortage in manpower. Even before Mr. Benn’s letter, scientists at Dounreay, where the most advanced nuclear power reactor in the West (and possibly in the world) is under construction, feared that the Americans might pick up classified information without the formality of buying a licence or poaching scientists. American atomic scientists who in the past visited Dounreay as part of official US Atomic Energy Commission delegations are now known to be working for Westinghouse.

 

‘. . . A senior Dounreay scientist said last week: “By getting people from here, Westinghouse could save themselves a year to two years in the development of a commercial fast reactor. . . .”

 

‘Up to now Dounreay with 300 qualified scientists and engineers, has easily warded off foreign poachers. In the entire history of the establishment the only losses to the United States have been a senior scientific officer and an engineer; six went to Canada and a handful to Australia and New Zealand.

 

‘. . . The Minister made it clear that he will not bid against Westinghouse’s offers to the British scientists – said to go as high as £35,000 a year . . . . Westinghouse repeated that the salaries offered were commensurate with the going rate in America. “Any inference that the reason Westinghouse seeks qualified engineers abroad is to steal someone else’s know-how is completely false . . .”.’

 

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