Dark clouds are hanging over the future of a nuclear project which could have safeguarded more than 1,000 county jobs in years to come.
Toshiba, parent company of Westinghouse which runs the Springfields nuclear fuel plant at Salwick, has run into severe financial difficulties, causing its chairman to resign.
The company, which has 60 per cent of the shares in the NuGen Moorside project to build three new nuclear power plants at Sellafield, has declared a £5bn writedown at its US nuclear business after a major blunder and is expected to announce a £4.8bn loss for the year.
Toshiba has said it is now reviewing its whole nuclear business outside Japan.
NuGen said Toshiba is committed to Moorside but the crisis is set to delay the £10bn scheme which would get its fuel from Springfields, as Toshiba looks to sell its share in the scheme.
The unions are calling on the Government to step in and support the project which could provide seven per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for Energy said: “Toshiba’s chairman Shigenori Shiga falling on his sword underlines the gravity of the company’s situation but must not be allowed to jeopardise the future of Moorside and put this country’s security of energy supply in any more of a precarious situation than it already is.
“It is time for government to show leadership and take over the reins at Moorside.
“The fiasco with Toshiba shows exactly why relying on foreign companies for our energy needs it just plain stupid.
“UK voters will not turn a blind eye any longer to poor decisions by politicians about our future energy needs.”
Unite’s Kevin Coyne said: “This is potentially a deeply troubling development and points to the need for the Government to take a more strategic approach in bringing new nuclear power stations on stream.
“Whether the UK can keep the lights on cannot be left to the vagaries of the market or business decisions taken on the other side of the globe.
“Government ministers must step in if needed with guarantees to secure the Moorside project.”