Saturday, 19 December 2020

Laying waste to Cumbria with national nuclear sacrifice area

Letter sent to the Guardian newspaper: Setting aside the hazard potential from a combination of floating vessels and nuclear power highlighted by Greenpeace, your energy editor’s revealing article on proposals for fleets of seaborne mini-nukes off shore (“Floating 'mini-nukes' could power countries by 2025, says startup, December 18) does not mention one key risk posed by all nuclear power production options: they generate radioactive waste alongside electricity. Earlier this month, the body responsible in the UK for finding a solution to the long term stewardship and /or burial of the UK’s legacy nuclear waste - Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWML) - quietly issued short report on potential plans to bury nuclear waste underground in south Cumbria, near Millom. (, following e several voluntary offers by local landowners. Intriguingly, RWML reveal that one option described for a so called geological disposal facility (GDF) in the report,“Ghyll Scaur Quarry and associated coastal plain together with the adjacent inshore area: initial evaluation,” would be to construct an entry facility around two miles from the southwestern boundary of the Lake District national park and admits there would be “an opportunity for the sub-surface facilities to be located deep beneath the seabed in the inshore area. I feel sure this would greatly interest the Irish Government, who have long opposed the leaky activities of Sellafield, just a short distance northwards up the Cumbrian coast. The report concludes: “Following the completion of initial evaluation work RWM has concluded that there may be potential to host a GDF in all of the areas referred to above, as identified by the Interested Parties. But unpromisingly, the report states at Paragraph 6.15: “At this point discussions may remain confidential…though they should be made public at the earliest opportunity if the interested party and RWM decide to move forward.” I tis surely in the wider public interest that all stakeholders in the region, and more widely (as it has national significance), have their say at an early juncture, and such an important public project does not have its details kept private in a secret shroud.

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