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Protest against plan for nuclear waste dump in West Cumbria, close to National Park

NEW NUCLEAR DUMP FOR HIGHER ACTIVITY WASTES AT DRIGG LOW LEVEL WASTE REPOSITORY? NIREX REBRANDED?  From Lakes Against Nuclear Dump to the Lake District National Park Authority. 28 Nov 21, A letter of alarm regarding plans for an Intermediate Level Nuclear Waste Dump for the UK’s Low Level Waste Repository at the village of Drigg. The UKs LLWR is 250 metres from the National Park Boundary at the nearest point. The following letter has been sent to local and national media and mainstream NGOs have been alerted.

Dear Member of the Lake District National Park Authority,

Congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the Lake District National Park. In the original Lake Counties is another 70th anniversary. The Windscale Piles. Which from 1951 produced plutonium for Britain to make its own atomic and hydrogen bombs until the Windscale Fire of 1957. Unfortunately lessons were not learnt. The nuclear experiment continues despite no final solution to the problem of what to do with the escalating wastes from 70 years of military and civil nuclear reactors. Our own view as a nuclear safety group is that the wastes should not be buried out of sight and out of mind but should be closely monitored and repackaged when necessary.

NIREX REBORN AT DRIGG? – Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes for Burial approximately 250 metres from the National Park?

We have been alerted by locals in the Drigg area to a plan which is running in tandem with that for a deep Geological Disposal Facility which Government say: “will be available to receive the first waste in the 2040s” However the plan for Near Surface Disposal (10s of metres below ground) “could be available within the next 10 years.” This plan, for which the Low Level Radioactive Waste Repository at Drigg is under active consideration, is for the disposal/dumping of Intermediate Level Wastes of the type that were rejected by the NIREX inquiry for deep GDF disposal at Longlands Farm, Gosforth in 1997. Exploratory boreholes have already been drilled at Drigg for the Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes, presumably under “permitted development.”

Just like the early days of the Windscale Piles this plan has been put in motion under the radar of public attention. There has not been any debate or vote at Local, Borough or County Council level nor, we assume, any discussion by the Lake District National Park despite the Low Level Waste Repository being only 250 metres from the Lake District National Park boundary. Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes, according to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, “exceeds the upper boundaries for Low Level Waste but does not generate a significant amount of heat. ..The major components of ILW are nuclear reactor components, graphite from reactor cores and sludges from the treatment of radioactive liquid effluents.”

The NIREX dump entrance proposal for Intermediate Level Wastes was rejected in the 1990s because the nuclear industry had no idea how much and how fast the planned dump would leak. They still have no idea. Furthermore for a shallow dump the leaks would be even faster…………

The fundamental conclusion of the expert Assessor and myself was that the Proposed Repository Zone had been chosen for these studies in an arbitrary manner, without conforming to internationally agreed, geological criteria

Earlier in a letter to “The Guardian” of June 28,’07 the NIREX Inquiry Inspector had stated : “The relevant geology in west Cumbria is apparently now claimed to be ‘stable, although imperfect’.…the imperfection consists of simply failing to meet the internationally agreed criteria on the suitability of rocks for nuclear waste deposit. The site should be in a region of low groundwater flow, and the geology should be readily characterisable and predictable, whereas the rocks there are actually of a complex volcanic nature, with significant faulting. Also, the industry was relying on an overlying layer of sedimentary strata to dilute and disperse any groundwater leakage, when the international criteria require such a layer to act instead as a barrier…The site is not suitable and investigations should be moved elsewhere…”.

And: “The site selection process was flawed, not treating safety as the most important factor, and irrationally affected by a strong desire to locate close to Sellafield.”

The latest process to deliver a GDF (with Cumbria STILL in the frame), Radioactive Waste Management, is now in partnership with the LLWR at Drigg. These bodies along with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are all advised by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management which is in turn taking “invaluable” advice on construction and delivery of deep (GDF) and not so deep (NSD) dumping/disposal from West Cumbria Mining’s CEO Mark Kirkbride. Kirkbride compiled CoRWMs Annual Report No 3724 which details the push for Near Surface Disposal: “advice in the last year have been in relation to the concept of Near Surface Disposal (NSD) for intermediate level waste which is being explored by NDA as a potential solution for the disposal of specific intermediate level waste materials, reducing the volume of certain elements of the inventory into a GDF.

The Lake District National Park Authority surely cannot ignore this. If Intermediate and heat generating High Level nuclear waste is brushed under the Lake District fringes and abandoned, then the World’s Nuclear Heritage Site will soon become the World’s Nuclear Sacrifice Zone. This could happen within a decade for the Intermediate Level Wastes at Drigg. Please protect the Lake District and its fringes, tomorrow is too late to say “This Far and No Further.”

yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

November 29, 2021 - Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK, wastes

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