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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Ennerdale valley voices nuclear waste fears

A PUBLIC meeting next week will hear claims that the picturesque Ennerdale valley is earmarked as a potential location to bury highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Some villagers fear that drilling and blasting might take place on Ennerdale Fell to see if the rock is suitable for an underground repository.

Yesterday the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority flatly denied there were any current plans for Ennerdale or anywhere else in West Cumbria. No potential site has yet been identified.

Senior councillors on Cumbria County Council and Copeland and Allerdale Borough Councils will decide on January 30 whether or not to look for a possible location.

But in the meantime community representatives at Ennerdale, Lamplugh and Kinniside fear that their area might face geological investigations.

The public meeting will be held in Ennerdale School on Monday (7pm).

However the NDA says: “It is completely untrue to suggest that borehole drilling or any other type of geological investigation relating to a geological disposal facility is currently planned for Ennerdale, or indeed any other part of Cumbria. It is also incorrect to suggest that any site in West Cumbria has so far been identified as a potential location for a GDF.

“Cumbria is currently at Stage 3 of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process which involves a community consultation on whether to proceed to stage 4. If councillors vote in January to move to Stage 4 then further studies of the geology of West Cumbria would be carried out in order to identify technically suitable sites for a GDF.

“If the communities then decide to proceed to Stage 5 those identified sites would be subject to detailed investigations including boreholes in order to decide which potential site if any is suitable for a GDF. Any communities involved during stage 4 would have the option to withdraw from the process at any point up to the start of stage 6 when construction work would begin.”

Organisers of Monday’s public meeting fear that future proposals will include:

A new access road the full length of the valley and onward to link with the main trunk road system for the substantial movement of people and equipment needed for the test drilling

Test drilling on Ennerdale Fell to test the suitability of the underlying rock to store nuclear waste

Extensive explosive charges to create the seismic map of the rock

An exclusion zone probably for more than a year with no public access to parts of the valley resulting in the re-routing of the Wainwright coast-to-coast walk and limiting the use of the valley as a recreation destination

But Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn strongly disputes the claims.

She said: “Ennerdale has not been identified as a site for test drilling or any part of the MRWS process. In fact no site has yet been identified in any report.”

“The meeting would seem to be jumping the gun and scaremongering in the extreme.”

One of the organisers, Peter Maher, said: “We are given to believe there will be geological surveys of Ennerdale Fell with boreholes and blasting to create a map of the underlying rock structure. This alone is likely to spoil the wild landscapes of the Ennerdale Valley, one of the gems of the Lake District.

“It is likely to mean new or widened access roads the length of the valley, new office buildings and storage depot at the head of the lake and then some access to get men and equipment to the top of Ennerdale Fell.

“It puts into danger 45 per cent of the valley where there are sites of scientific and archaeological interest, the lake as a source of drinking water for West Cumbria and even access to the valley as a popular leisure destination.”

Have your say

I was at a meeting at Silloth a couple of weeks ago and it looked as though a repository to the north-east of Silloth is much more likely.

Posted by Ken Parkes on 14 December 2012 at 11:35

Colin, my point was that there doesn't seem to be any evidence to back up what the Ennerdale campaigners are saying - until we see otherwise, it looks asthough they are making it up and indulging in irresponsible scare mongering. I gather the remaining area of search covers 700 square miles and as for the name of the granite formation; well Mercia's in the midlands isn't it, 200 miles away from Silloth!

Posted by crisby on 11 December 2012 at 16:34

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