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Nuclear waste plans an abuse of democracy in Britain

This is basically an engineering project like no other. Its timescale will dwarf the oldest cathedrals.



this time they have legislation in place to make sure the county council can’t stop it. It’s an abuse of democracy.

text-wise-owlHardest sell: Nuclear waste needs good home By Greig Watson BBC News 18 January 2016 “…….Steadily produced since the end of World War Two, the question of what to do with the nuclear waste from civil, military, medical and scientific uses has been causing equal measures of fear and frustration for decades. With a new generation of nuclear power stations on the way, a fresh search is under way for a community ready to take on the challenge.

Campaigner Eddie Martin says: “It’s very worrying, scary even. They have been looking for somewhere to put this material for decades and it keeps coming back to Cumbria.”…….

Nuclear power stations have been built in 31 countries but only a handful ,including Finland, Sweden, France and the US have started building permanent storage facilities.

All of these are purpose-built caves hundreds of metres below ground, known as a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Once the waste is treated and sealed inside containers, it is stacked in the caverns. GDFs are expected to remain secure for thousands of years.

Dr Robert says GDFs or deep boreholes are two possible options for the disposal of radioactive waste but there are still challenges to overcome, particularly in predicting their behaviour over hundreds or thousands of years.

“While there are natural examples of radiation being contained – think of the mines where uranium for nuclear fuel has been sat happily for millennia – the mix of isotopes in radioactive waste is much more complex so we need to know how the nuclear waste interacts with its storage material, be it glass, concrete or metal………

This is basically an engineering project like no other. Its timescale will dwarf the oldest cathedrals.

“We also need to ensure we can guarantee the records will be kept of what is down there and where. It has to last for hundreds of years and how many records have we lost since the Tudors? Or the Romans?”

So, from the carefree days of dumping it in the Irish Sea there dawned a realisation the predicted 650,000 m3 of nuclear waste needed a more permanent solution. So where are we in the process? And how did we get here?……..

After much local protest, permission to proceed with detailed geological surveys was refused by Cumbria County Council in January 2013.

Dusting itself off, the government restarted the process, in the meantime passing legislation that left any final decision about a location in the hands of ministers.

This summer saw the launch of a National Geological Screening Guidance consultation, a review of existing information about the suitability of sites across England and Wales, with councils and organisations invited to comment.

Eddie Martin, a former leader of Cumbria County Council and founder of the Cumbria Trust, said: “Sellafield has been filling up with other sites’ waste and is it any surprise the last search ended up here?

“It’s not for any pragmatic or geological reason, it’s socio-economic expediency. Part of this county already relies on the nuclear industry, so it’s more likely to accept some more.

“On top of that there are some cash-strapped local councils in this part of the world and the financial perks offered will seem appealing in the short term.

“The only thing which stopped it last time was the balance of local interest and scrutiny that the county council brought.

“Now they are running the same search again, which will come up with the same result, only this time they have legislation in place to make sure the county council can’t stop it. It’s an abuse of democracy.

“Cumbria is not the right place for this facility. First of all there is the sheer strain of building the thing. A 16-tonne lorry every three minutes for 20 years. On our small roads.

“Then the geology is wrong. Granite rocks are too fractured, they are too prone to water running through from the mountains and any number of studies back this up.

“This waste can devastate for thousands of years. It has to go somewhere but this is the wrong place. It is too important just to take the easy option.”……….

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has overall responsibility, and a £3.3bn annual budget, to clean up the UK’s radioactive legacy.

While there is currently about 292,000 cubic metres of the most radioactive waste in its raw state, the volume to be stored, when future production, treatment and containment are factored in, is about 650,000 cubic metres.

The part of the NDA tasked with finding somewhere to put it all is called Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) Ltd.

Its chief scientific adviser, Prof Cherry Tweed, is clear in her belief they are on the right track.

She says: “There is a very strong international consensus that geological disposal is the safest and most practicable solution for these wastes and that it is technically feasible……….

The GDF will certainly be an awesome undertaking. It is expected the surface buildings alone will cover 1km sq. The underground tunnels will stretch for 10-20 km sq. On a Cumbria scale, that is bigger than Carlisle.

It will take decades to build and predicted costs are almost unguessable – but most estimates agree on billions of pounds.

But before these technical issues are tested, RWM must do something that has eluded the authorities for decades. Find a volunteer community.

This has not been made an easier by the US disposal site being temporarily shut down after leaks and continued doubts over GDF designs……..


January 19, 2016 - Posted by | politics, UK, wastes

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