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‘Lacking in scientific rigour’: Damning verdict of marine expert on UK’s Nuclear Waste Services seismic testing plan

Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL) and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities
(NFLA) have announced the publication of a report by a renowned marine
expert which is highly critical of Nuclear Waste Services’ (NWS) proposal
to carry out a seismic survey in the Irish Sea to further a plan for an
offshore nuclear waste dump.

The report, ‘The West of Copeland Acoustic
Airgun Survey Proposal: A critical analysis Review Briefing’, was
commissioned by Radiation Free Lakeland and supported wholly through
financial contributions made by members of the public concerned about the
harm that could be caused to marine life by seismic testing.

The report was written by Tim Deere-Jones, a highly-regarded marine radioactivity and
pollution researcher and consultant who has been working independently in
this field since 1983. The NWS, an operating division of the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority, is responsible for finding a site for a
so-called Geological Disposal Facility, either below ground or beneath the
seabed.

This nuclear waste dump will be filled with the toxic radioactive
waste that is the legacy of Britain’s seven decades of the civil nuclear
power production; much of it will remain radioactive for many tens of
thousands of years.

Three search areas in Cumbria, falling within the local
authority areas of Allerdale and Copeland and offshore up to 22kms, are
under consideration. Seismic testing will enable NWS to determine if the
geology beneath the bed of the Irish Sea is suitable to host a repository
for the nuclear waste.

This involves firing blasts of sound from air guns
below the waves every 10 seconds for four weeks or longer. This sound
penetrates under the ocean floor to help scientists discover more about the
suitability of the geology to store nuclear waste. Seismic testing can
seriously impair the health of marine life, which in the Irish Sea includes
whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals, but some scientific reports also
suggest that even tiny shellfish and plankton can be adversely impacted,
hazarding the whole marine ecosystem.

NWS have claimed an exemption from
the requirement to seek a Marine Licence from the MMO citing their survey
as furthering ‘scientific research’ and in so doing have prevented
public analysis of their proposals or commentary from academics and marine
welfare organisations.

 NFLA 27th June 2022

June 28, 2022 - Posted by | oceans, UK, wastes

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