But it's one of worst places to bury it says professor
Last updated at 11:44, Thursday, 13 September 2012
WEST Cumbria is one of the worst places in the country to bury highly radioactive nuclear waste, claims a leading geologist.
Prof Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University, argued at a public meeting in Calderbridge that there was nowhere in West Cumbria sufficiently suitable to bury the material deep underground.
“Drop it”, was his message to Cumbria County Council, Copeland and Allerdale borough councils, prior to D-Day on October 11 when a small number of executive councillors meet to decide whether to start a search of the area for a safe site.
Prof Haszeldine said West Cumbria’s geology was not right – but it might be in some other parts of the country.
“This is not the time to make a decision, the only sensible thing is not to go ahead,” he said.
“There’s enough information already to say West Cumbria hasn’t a good site. Its geology is unique and permanently risky.
“We’re on a slippery slope. If tens of millions of pounds are spent it will be a juggernaut difficult to stop.”
Last Friday’s meeting was held in Calderbridge, not far from Longlands (Gosforth), which more than a decade ago was the Nirex’s ‘preferred repository choice’.
Nirex failed in its development bid despite, according to Prof Haszeldine, drilling 27 boreholes and spending £400 million investigating not only Longlands but the whole of West Cumbria.
He told the well-attended meeting: “If you want to go ahead you have to realise West Cumbria would be putting itself on a conveyor belt difficult to get off.
“Public opinion is certainly not wholesale in favour. There is an option to defer a decision; you don’t have to take all the options the government’s feeding you, we have power and control, we should be saying, like the Cumbria Association of Local Councils, that not enough is known.”
Referring to written assurances from former Energy Minister Charles Hendry that a community benefits package and other factors could be made legally binding, the professor pointed out: “Promises from ministers are only as good as the last Cabinet re-shuffle, and Mr Hendry is no longer the energy minister.”
He went on: “The third option is to drop it altogether. That may be very unfortunate for West Cumbria in some respects but, remember, there are only a few hundred jobs in this. The price of those jobs is too high to try and develop a waste repository in the whole of the UK.”
He felt that West Cumbria’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership had carried out a good programme but added: “It’s obviously come up against many issues which are potential difficulties. From the Nirex investigations of the 1990s, Prof David Smythe and myself think there is ample information to show West Cumbria is a very unsuitable place to try and develop a repository.
“If the councils are in too much of a hurry to enter into the process they will then make a premature decision. They will become trapped in this conveyor belt of ever-increasing government investment to explore an area which, from our own studies, we believe to be unsuitable. Available information gives conclusive proof that the Borrowdale Volcanics are still unsuitable for all the reasons we heard at the Nirex planning inquiry in 1997.”
Another speaker was ex- Nirex director Andy Blowers, professor of social sciences at The Open University, who was a member of the CoRWM committee which recommended that any potential repository ‘host’ area should come through volunteering.
He said: “We must not abandon the voluntary principle, it’s the only defence people have got against being railroaded into certain decisions.
“I just think it is too premature to take a decision to go forward on October 11.
“If on October 11 the councils do decide to go forward that is more or less locking in this area.
“The pressure on having one is coming from the new (power station) nuclear new- build programme. The government is absolutely desperate to get new build on the road and has to solve the problem of waste management.”
First published at 11:09, Thursday, 13 September 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Why do you care in suffolk. Your probably at more risk from france where they dont have the same safety culture and regulation we do. I would be happy to have this in my garden unfortunatly its not big enough. Without investment in things like this towns like whitehaven will become run down ghost towns- oh wait its already getting that way - act now before its to late for the local economy because tourism wont sustain us. Most of the so called tourists are actually contractors at sellafield.
Has anybody bothered asking sweden or finland if they would consider taking it as they have state of the art 100,000yr depositarys already in place,i'm sure they would welcome Â£400million pounds of waste rather than blowing that on consultants who will say whatever you want as long as they are paid.Too many people with their hands in the pot, stop thinking of yourselves and start thinking of other ways or places to put it.And besides when are you going to tell people it will need to be the size of carlisle or did you want to let us know after is has been passed,start asking questions on that subject,then ask where it will go.
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