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Monday, 01 September 2014

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You say: N-waste questions continue

SIR – The reprocessed nuclear waste currently held at Sellafield occupies a small portion of the site. It would seem reasonable for the NDA to find a more stable method of storing that existing waste within the Sellafield site.

twdump2
ON THE MARCH: Protesters sets off on a protest march from Bowness Knott at Ennerdale with a massive ‘No’ sign painted onto a house.

The important thing is that it should be contained strictly within an existing nuclear licensed site boundary. There is a policy to return nuclear waste to the foreign countries of origin. Perhaps that should be extended to include the UK counties of origin.

As a life-long Cumbrian resident, I do not wish to see the massive defilement of the West Cumbrian countryside for the disposal of huge volumes of untreated, highly active waste arising from nuclear reactors throughout Britain (the proposed repository would cover an area nearly the size of York).

Unfortunately it seems that the nuclear industry now views West Cumbria as its own to utilise as it sees fit. Numerous nuclear-linked industrial sites have continued to proliferate throughout West Cumbria, including Lillyhall, Haile, Seascale, Egremont, Drigg, Holmrook, Westlakes, Workington and now Whitehaven.

There is an expectation that West Cumbrians should be grateful for any jobs that come their way with new reactors or nuclear waste dumps, and shouldn’t complain about the consequences, otherwise they will be guilty of ingratitude.

It is not Cumbria’s responsibility to resolve the national waste problems for the nuclear industry. Who voted for a handful of MPs and councillors to autonomously “volunteer” Cumbria to host a nuclear repository? I certainly didn’t. It’s time to halt the unhealthy, growing monopoly of West Cumbria by the nuclear industry. A proper referendum on the repository issue would be a good starting point.

The number of long-term jobs that would be created by a repository would be less than that of a couple of supermarkets. How many jobs and businesses will disappear because of the blight and damage to tourism in Cumbria? Repository construction would of course be carried out by a mass influx of itinerant workers from far and wide.

The most suitable areas of geology in the country should have been the starting point for a repository location. West Cumbrian geology is at best deemed unlikely to be suitable. I don’t have faith in the nuclear industry’s ability to contain and monitor highly active nuclear waste deep within a fractured and unpredictable geology in the wettest county of England for hundreds of years – let alone thousands! They have struggled to adequately contain nuclear waste and prevent environmental contamination in a period of only 60 years (the ’57 Pile chimney fire, the ’80s beach closures, and the Thorp leakages). How can they possibly guarantee that future generations will not a) be exposed to radioactive contamination escaping into water courses or b) inadvertently disturb or excavate the waste? Perhaps a high security fence around West Cumbria?

It is now clear that any “host” village or town community would ultimately be deemed expendable by the local councils (the Decision-Making Bodies) for the supposed greater “economic benefit” of West Cumbria. But where is there any evidence of the fantastic wealth generated by the nuclear industry in West Cumbria today? Egremont, Millom, Cleator Moor and Whitehaven are pitifully run down and littered with empty shops. Major community facilities, such as Whitehaven Civic Hall are on the verge of closure. We are still isolated from the rest of the country by inadequate roads. West Cumbria has become a banana republic.

Of course “voluntarism” applies to all of England and Wales. If the energy secretary is sufficiently enthusiastic about the dump, then it’s reasonable to expect him to demonstrate that to the public. The current Secretary of State is one Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton – right in the middle of the London clay basin, the most suitable geology in Britain for a nuclear waste dump, according to eminent geologist Professor Smythe.

Let Mr Davey prove his commitment to the principle of voluntarism by volunteering his own constituency for the waste dump. So come on Mr Davey – let’s hear it for Kingston and Surbiton!

D. HYNES

Braystones

SIR – Mr McKirdy’s letter (The Whitehaven News, January 17) cannot be allowed to go unchallenged, raising, as it does, a most important matter of principle.

In his letter Mr McKirdy provides us with two very important definitions, for a Community and for a Community Siting Partnership, and cites as his authority for his definitions “the report from the MRWS Partnership” (“The definition of those terms is given in the report from the MRWS Partnership”).

Both definitions differ quite radically from definitions for these two terms which appear in the Government White Paper of June 2008. As the latter are statements of proposed Government policy, while the former are merely statements from a decision-making-body-controlled partnership, the principle involved is, of course, which takes precedence and which carries the most weight?

It would be surprising if the White Paper was not the more authoritative of the two sources but perhaps Mr McKirdy could inform us, and your readers, if he agrees with this statement, and if not, why not. This is not a matter of trivial nit-picking; these definitions are fundamental to validity of the MRWS process.

For ease of understanding, we give below the various definitions mentioned above, and in so doing, we cannot help but wonder at the desperation of the NDA (and DECC?) to site a repository in West Cumbria that they would have to resort to amending definitions to suit their own purposes. We would also comment on the absurdity of defining the county council and two borough councils, in both the MRWS report and the White Paper, as “communities”.

1. COMMUNITIES. Mr McKirdy’s letter: “By community, I mean the Decision-Making Bodies (DMBs) who would be advised by a Community Siting Partnership”

The White Paper: “Following careful consideration of responses to the MRWS consultation, the Government will define three types of community for the purposes of the site selection process. They are not rigid; the intention is to retain flexibility to account for local circumstances and allow communities to have a degree of self-definition” – Para 6.7

The concept of ‘community’ is considered under three headings: the Host Community, the Decision Making Body, and Wider Local Interests. – Para 6.8.

All three levels of community will need to liaise closely with one another as the process is taken forward. Both the Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will need to engage with all three communities” – Para 6.9.

2. COMMUNITY SITING PARTNERSHIP. Mr McKirdy’s letter: “A partnership of local community interests that would work with the NDA and with other relevant interested parties to ensure that questions and concerns of potential host communities and wider local interests are addressed and resolved as far as reasonably practicable and to advise the DMBs at each stage of the process”

White Paper: “By a partnership approach, Government means the setting up of a formal Community Siting Partnership such that the Host Community, Decision Making Bodies and Wider Local Interests will work with the NDA’s delivery organisation and with other relevant interested parties to achieve a successful outcome. This could be by ensuring that questions and concerns about the geological disposal facility siting, construction, operation, closure and post-closure are addressed and resolved as far as reasonably practicable and that the project contributes to a community’s further development and well-being”

Mr M McKINLEY (Chairman, Gosforth Parish Council)

Mr R STEWART (Chairman, Ponsonby Parish Council)

SIR – I am a dual British/Australian citizen resident in Perth, Western Australia. I have been visiting Ennerdale and the wider Lake District as a walker/climber for one or two weeks a year for 25 years and continue to do so.

I am an accountant and not normally easily moved to protest. I am also involved in the mining industry here so well understand the need and nature of economic and environmental trade-offs. I am, however, appalled that it is even being considered that the wider economic, reputational and social interests of the Lake District National Park can be “put in play” based on speculative science, weak economics and next-to-no due diligence (all of these factors demonstrable from the Keswick public meeting even from 9,000 miles away).

My concerns centre on the disparity between massive short-term reputational damage on the tourist industry, housing prices and local economy against the nebulous longer term economic benefits (which being largely capital – and not labour – intensive will likely not benefit the area anyway). It also sets the “future benefits” argument against the risk of technological shifts in the nuclear industry which may render the scheme obsolete by the time it is enacted.

I appeal to you to oppose the narrow interest groups which appear to be prevailing on the Copeland political scene. As a UK advert once famously stated: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression...” so please don’t support something which will damage the tourist industry in the eyes of the world because, believe me, potential visitors have plenty of other unspoilt wilderness opportunities elsewhere.

Jeremy ATKINSON

Western Australia

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