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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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New government plan to deal with radioactive waste

THE government has launched a new long-term plan to deal permanently with the country’s radioactive waste.

It follows a consultation on improving the process of finding a site to host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), which will isolate radioactive waste deep underground and inside multiple barriers to provide protection over hundreds of thousands of years.

Building a GDF will help permanently deal with waste from decades of generating low-carbon electricity from nuclear power.

Based on feedback from a consultation, the government has created a new plan for working with communities to identify a site for a GDF.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years, and we can learn from the experiences of other countries who are also doing this.

“Building and running a GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.

“Today we’re setting out our plan to find a suitable site, based on a fundamental principle of listening to people, to make sure we have the right process in place. The area that eventually hosts a Geological Disposal Facility will benefit from significant investment in the community and hundreds of skilled jobs for decades to come.”

Currently, radioactive waste is stored temporarily at secure nuclear sites across the country, but a GDF will allow for permanent disposal.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “We have an energy crisis but this decision has nothing to do with that - the Geological Disposal Facility should not be foisted on a community without their wholehearted support.

“The mooted plans to remove the veto for local councils against a nuclear repository is undemocratic and makes an absolute mockery of the idea of localism.

“The government need to drop that idea, and quickly. Our area is one of the least geologically suitable places to bury this waste in the country – we must not now be forced to store this waste against the will of so many local people, and with such detriment to the Lake District’s precious brand.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “Government was right to consult and right to listen. Today’s white paper is a welcome step in moving towards resolving a critical national policy issue.

"My constituents currently live alongside the vast majority of the United Kingdom’s spent nuclear fuels and radioactive waste products. Nowhere else in our country is this policy agenda more pressing or more important. Nowhere else in the country does any community provide such a unique and valuable national service.

“Our country has a moral, economic and environmental obligation towards my constituents when it comes to resolving these issues. Any attempt by any government to ignore its obligations to my community in this policy area will no longer be tolerated.

“Central government needs to prove it has the desire, capacity and capability to solve these issues. This means that the centre of government must develop a way of working with, listening to and responding to communities in a way in which it has so far failed to do.

“Wherever in the United Kingdom an eventual GDF site is found, this will have a profound effect upon the people of Copeland and West Cumbria.”

Have your say

I have to agree with Colin. Being an engineer in the nuclear industry, i understand the importance of a solution to the UK nuclear legacy.

What concerns me, and to put it in perspective, is that 100,000 years ago, man had first evolved into modern man, or 'homo-sapien'. 100,000 years ago we were still banging rocks together and painting on cave walls.

I dont believe that engineering is so far advanced that we can provide a 'permanent' solution to the UK's nuclear legacy until the next human evolutionary step forward.

The solution as i see it is developing reactor technology for re-use of legacy fuels.

Posted by The other radioactive man on 31 July 2014 at 07:50

- In response to Radioactive man. - An exceedingly well engineered vault? The only example we have is the one at Carlsbad New Mexico WIPP, which, due to a fire and a leak wont be accepting any more waste for probably several years. Meanwhile the surrounding population is exposed to elevated radiation levels. - Is this what we want in Cumbria.

What the WIPP facility tells us is that even when you have good geology, engineers fail us. Engineering knowledge on containment is not yet sufficiently advanced enough to protect us. - It may be in decades to come as it may also be sufficiently advanced enough not to mean we have to bury the waste.

Also to compare the risk of flying with a geological nuclear waste facility is incorrect. Firstly, we choose to fly and more importantly if you do fly you don't expose yourself to biologically harmful alpha emitting radiation.

Your right of course when it comes to vehicle emissions currently, but technology changes. The take up of electric vehicles is slow currently but that will change with much greater take up as the technology matures.

A total waste of taxpayers money to revisit a national geological survey. - The data already exists. - TH has it right. - They didn't like the results.

Its not really difficult is it? No one considered if the geology was of any importance when they build Calder Hall in the 1940s Not until the Flowers report 1976 was the problem of what to do with the waste seriously addressed.

We need far more investment in Sellafield to lower the risk to Cumbria and for that matter much of Northern Britain. And Mr Reed we need compensating now for shouldering the risk we all face. Does anyone accept a risk without being compensated in some way?

Posted by Colin Wales on 27 July 2014 at 18:12

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