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Guardians of the East Coast (Gotec) fight to stop nuclear waste dumping in the sea near holiday resorts UK

 As Boris Johnson forged ahead with plans to triple Britain’s nuclear output in the shift away from a reliance on Russia and fossil fuels, he pledged to build a mini-nuclear reactor in almost every garden across the country.

The outgoing prime minister’s plan was typically bombastic, yet reflected the Government’s ambitious target to deliver up to a quarter of the country’s electricity from nuclear technologies by 2050.

What is less clear, however, is exactly where to put the hazardous waste produced from
reactors. Currently, Britain stores spent nuclear fuel at a number of nuclear sites including Sellafield, in Cumbria, and Sizewell B, in Suffolk.

But these on-land sites are not intended to be a permanent solution to the radioactive material building up as a by-product of Britain’s nuclear programme. The Government’s arms-length body Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) has been tasked with finding a permanent disposal site. Bruce Cairns, chief policy adviser at NWS, says: “We’re talking about a solution that should last hundreds of thousands of years. “What do you trust the most? Do you really want to leave this stuff at the surface, where it is vulnerable to
extreme weather events, climate change, sea level rise, terrorism, war or the breakdown in society?

“Everyone reaches the same conclusion. We just can’t give any guarantees that there will be people on the surface capable of looking after it over those timescales.” Countries worldwide with nuclear programmes are all trying to find ways to store the waste so that it will not endanger future civilisations, with policy makers discussing how to make it completely inaccessible to future populations likely to
speak different languages, hold different values and have access to new technologies. The best way forward, they have decided, is to store the waste in rocks deep underground.

But finding a local area happy to host the site has its challenges, and has come up against opposition. A number of locations in Cumbria are being vetted by the Government, with the communities near Sellafield considered more amenable because they are already better acquainted with nuclear technologies and aware of the economic benefits of the industry.

However, a new entrant has emerged on the east coast. A community group assessing plans for a GDF has been set up in Lincolnshire. The facility’s entrance would be located at a former gas terminal near the village of Theddlethorpe and the popular seaside town of Mablethorpe. Underground tunnels dug out of layers of deep rocks would lead to the underwater site around six miles from the coastline. NWS and other proponents of the site point out that granting a GDF in the area will unlock significant government funding for local projects.

Yet opponents fear it would wreck the local tourism industry. A group called the Guardians of the East Coast (Gotec) are fighting the plans through protests, petitions and coverage in local and national newspapers. Ken Smith, chairman of Gotec, says: “Mablethorpe is one of the east coast’s principle bucket-and-spade holiday resorts. “I imagine that having four square miles of nuclear waste just six miles off the coast is not exactly going to encourage people to send their children along to bathe in the sea.” Local Conservative MP Victoria Atkins has also expressed reservations and held meetings with site organisers.

 Telegraph 23rd July 2022

July 22, 2022 - Posted by | oceans, opposition to nuclear, UK

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