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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Opinion split on high-level nuclear waste dump

OPINION is divided on whether to push on with plans for a £4billion repository to bury highly radioactive waste in West Cumbria, latest figures show.

West Cumbria’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership conducted a large-scale consultation and an initial summary of responses will be outlined at a public meeting next week.

It asked people’s views on whether Copeland and Allerdale should take part in the search for somewhere to put a repository, without any commitment. So far, more people or organisations have said ‘yes’ than ‘no’.

A repository – known as a geological disposal facility, or GDF – would be up to four times the size of the Sellafield site.

Community benefits packages have been promised by the government but a repository would only go in an area where people were prepared to have it. Only West Cumbria has so far expressed an interest, although yesterday Shepway District Council in Kent said it is to hold a public meeting about whether Romney Marsh should consider volunteering, to offset the loss of 1,000 jobs at Dungeness power stations.

Of 1,086 responses, the MRWS Partnership says 420 suggest that West Cumbria should take part in a search to find a suitable site to put the waste deep underground. But 300 suggest that the area should withdraw altogether.

Many town and parish councils have already made it clear that they don’t want to proceed any further. These include three closest to Sellafield – Ponsonby, Beckermet and Gosforth.

In its initial summary published yesterday, the MRWS Partnership said there have been strong views for and against whether to search for a site.

It points out: “While some respondents simply state ‘yes, go ahead,’ or ‘no the councils should withdraw,’ others detail their views more clearly, tending to focus on specific issues of concern, either positive or negative.

“Others are less explicit about whether they support or oppose West Cumbria entering the siting process, instead focussing on specific issues or on the of a geological disposal facility overall – rather than whether or not West Cumbria should proceed with the next stage of the process.”

Many who responded have talked about positive or negative impacts without saying an outright yes or no.

Some views in favour:

“It is common sense to carry out a search in this area – the majority of the UK radioactive waste is stationed at Sellafield so if this area is suitable then the waste can be stored safely without travelling the roads of the UK.”

“We would be happy with West Cumbria having a GDF as long as the geology was suitable.”

“It can only be a positive thing for the area. It is something the local area has a vast knowledge of and the waste is already here so we must use it to our full benefit.”

“Positive impacts on employment.”

And against:

“Belief that West Cumbria’s geology is not suitable, including references to previous geological investigations and the suggestion that it would be a waste of time and money to proceed.”

“The government proved themselves in the Nirex report that Cumbria is unsafe in its geology and hydrogeology for radioactive waste. I ask Allerdale and Copeland to withdraw from consultation as proved to be unsafe.”

“Concern that the right of withdrawal would not happen, as well as related concerns about the process having an element of pre-determination.”

“Concern over impacts on tourism.”

Fuller details of the consultation results will be given at Tuesday’s meeting in Whitehaven Civic Hall.

Have your say

The draft results on this consultation are posted on the MRWS website, for the Partnership meeting on Tuesday 22 May in Whitehaven.
My reading of these results, is that 8 Questions were asked by the MRWS Partnership. Of the 8 questions asked, fully 7 questions have replies which show a REJECTION of the Partnership proposals by 60% to 40% of the submissions made. Only Question 8 has a majority vote SUPPORTING the partnership proposal to proceed. However it is very strange that replies to this Question 8 are about double each of the other Questions. A logical deduction is that many respondents have answered only that single Question, which makes the whole exercise rather unreliable.
The WHN article by Alan irving focuses on the replies to this single Question, and so does not adequately represent the clear overall REJECTION of the Partnership proposals by this group of the public.
Also remember that 75% of the Parish Councils who have voted, have REJECTED the Partnership proposals.
The verbal comments recorded in the Consultation show a range of opinions from fully Yes to fully No. I think that we knew that part at least 15 years ago, so I wonder what we in the UK have been doing positively in the intervening time to enable disposal of this toxic radioactive waste in a secure long-term site. Precious little it seems.

Posted by Stuart Haszeldine on 24 May 2012 at 12:07

We are led to beleive that for this facility to get the go ahead the people of Cumbria have to be in favour. If what we are led to beleive is in fact true, and, through a referendum the local people are shown to be not in favour of this facility being built, will it not constitute an utter waste of money if all the developmental stages are gone through for the thumbs down to be eventually given by the local people?
This poll seems to be rather contrived, for what purpose? Could it be that the decision has already been made with token gestures being 'given' to the local populace as in, for example, a poll? Should not Copeland council be advocating a referendum before anything goes further, as a fair and democratic way of giving voice to the people, the people they are here to represent? CBC seem to be rather quiet on this one, again, is there any reason for this?
No-one asked my opinion or the opinion of anyone that I know.

Posted by Observer on 22 May 2012 at 22:55

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