ANTI-NUCLEAR protestors are calling on the government to halt moves to get rid of radioactive material in conventional landfill.

And they are also calling for public support to prevent the lowest levels of radioactive waste being buried on the former Keekle Head open cast site in Copeland.

A handful of protestors gathered in Whitehaven on Thursday last week to try and win backing for their position.

They were lobbing members of the West Cumbria Partnership, which is helping to make “informed decisions” on government proposals for an underground repository, to take higher levels of radioactive waste mainly from Sellafield.

Groups led by Radiation Free Lakeland and Greenpeace want Cumbria County Council to oppose change of use for the vast Keekle Head site. During the protest outside the Copeland Council offices in Whitehaven, they asked passers-by to sign a petition urging Secretary of State for Energy Chris Huhne to reverse legislation which paves the way for very low levels of radioactive material to be sent to landfill.

Marianne Birkby, of Radiation Free Lakeland, said the source of the River Keekle was one of the Lakes’ best salmon rivers and worth £60 million to the Cumbrian economy. Dumping material at Keekle Head would be damaging.

On the high level waste plans, she declared: “Environmental groups in the South Lakes are being wooed to give legitimacy to geological disposal when scientists have said that it may well be the worst possible option for nuclear waste.

“I live in the South Lakes and almost daily there’s flasks of spent fuel going across Morecambe Bay to Sellafield. So to say we have already got most of the waste here is a bit disingenuous. There is absolutely no solution to this nuclear waste. To put it out of sight and out of mind is the worst possible option. Looking after the waste above ground is the worst of two evils, it is still dangerous but it is much better than bunging it underground,” she claimed.

West Cumbria is again top of the list of potential repository locations for a repository with only Copeland, Allerdale and the county council ‘expressing an interest’ in the possibility.

The cost is estimated at £12 million and the government is offering financial sweeteners to the community which eventually agrees to ‘host’ a repository subject to suitable, safe geology.A geological survey is currently under way in West Cumbria to help with the search for the ‘right’ site.The main aim of the survey at this stage is to ‘screen out’ areas which prove unsuitable.

Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn says: “The government has made it clear this is a voluntary process and the Partnership will ensure we take the time needed to properly consider the issues before deciding whether or not this area should participate in the process. The views of the public will play a vital role in this decision.”