Friday, 15 January 2021
Why the truth matters, including on nuclear issues
I have spent the past few days engaged in an excellent webinar on nuclear waste and information disclosure, titled: AARHUS CONVENTION AND NUCLEAR (ACN) ROUND TABLE ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT (RWM), online 13-15 January 2021 The promotional blurb reads “The European Commission (DG ENER) and Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW) have organized an “Aarhus Convention and Nuclear” Roundtable [with] the objective to gather concerned stakeholders by Radioactive Waste Management (operators, regulators and institutional representatives, experts and researchers, NGOs, civil society representatives) in order to discuss concrete implementation of the Aarhus Convention principles (public information and participation)”.(http://www.nuclear-transparency-watch.eu/acn-round-table) Most of the presentations have been really informative and insightful (with the exception of a shocking apologia on radiation risks from a shameless official from Euratom, whose blushes I will save by not naming him here! His contribution surely undermined the credibility of Euratom as a source of reliable information on radiological risk). However, the answers given to some questions were demonstrably wrong, from people holding important official roles in pan –European nuclear bodies or national environmental ministries. It is very worrying these so-called official experts either really believe what they responded, ( and are thus incompetent in their role) or deliberately dissembled, ie lied, and thought their audience would not notice or know the answer was untrue. But some of us did; and pointed this out! As this three day forum was underway across the European a digital airwaves, the UK nuclear waste management implementer- Radioactive Waste Management Limited and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) unveiled a new atomic aspirant to bury nuclear waste under their land in Cumbria, near Sellafield. Here is how the RWML/NDA announced it: RWM welcomes launch of second GDF ‘Working Group’ https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rwm-welcomes-launch-of-second-gdf-working-group The Working Group in Allerdale, Cumbria, will now begin local discussions about the potential for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) Published 14 January 2021 by Radioactive Waste Management and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. A Working Group has been formed in Allerdale, Cumbria, to begin discussions about the potential for hosting a deep geological facility for the safe and secure disposal of radioactive waste. Today’s announcement follows two months after the first group was established in neighbouring Copeland. Chaired independently by Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, the Allerdale Working Group will now begin local discussions and fact-finding about the potential for the future siting of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in Allerdale. Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) Chief Executive, Karen Wheeler, said: “I’m delighted to see the formation of the GDF Working Group in Allerdale which will start to engage local residents, businesses, and other organisations about the possibility of hosting a GDF. This is the second Working Group to form, following Copeland’s announcement in November, with more planned to come across England in the months ahead. The formation of a Working Group is a very early step in the process, but it demonstrates real progress is being made towards finding a willing community and suitable site for one of the biggest environmental protection projects of our lifetime – disposing of higher activity waste safely and securely in a GDF. This is a massive infrastructure investment for a local economy, and a vital project for the UK. It will create thousands of jobs over its lifetime, bringing opportunities to develop a local workforce with the skills and expertise that will be needed. A GDF will also attract further inward investment together with supply chain opportunities over the course of many decades and into the next century. The group will initially focus on gathering information about the local area and views of the local community, and identifying a Search Area for further detailed consideration. As is the position in Copeland, the Lake District National Park will be excluded. There is no requirement to make any commitment on future willingness to host a GDF. The Working Group will also identify the initial members of a Community Partnership that will continue these early discussions once a search area is identified, sharing information and working alongside RWM as geological investigations take place. Setting up a Working Group does not mean a GDF will be built in a particular location. Before any final decision is taken, the community must demonstrate its willingness to host a GDF through a test of public support, and it must be shown that the local area has suitable geology such that a GDF could be constructed safely and securely. Information about a GDF: • Geological Disposal is the internationally recognised way to dispose of higher-activity radioactive waste and involves a series of highly engineered vaults located up to 1,000 metres deep in a suitable rock formation. Combined with manmade barriers, this protects the environment and keeps the waste safe and secure while the radioactivity decays naturally to safe levels. • Successive UK governments have endorsed deep geological disposal, and there are similar programmes already under way in Canada, Finland, France, Sweden and Switzerland. • Initial construction is likely to span approximately 10 years and employ up to 2,000 people during the peak phase, with underground construction continuing as the facility expands gradually over its operating life of more than 100 years. • A GDF is also expected to support thousands of jobs, both at the facility and in the wider supply chain, as well as generating wide-ranging contract opportunities for local businesses. • The invitation to open discussions and get involved in the GDF programme remains open to any community organisation, local authority, business or individual in England or Wales. A RWML official, Mike Brophy, who heads up stakeholder relations, and who made a presentation to the NTW ‘Aarhus Forum’ on Wednesday (but forgot to mention the Allerdale development to his wider European audience, explained the situation from RWML’s perspective, in the following blog published on Thursday but clearly written at least as early as the day before. What good will the GDF do for its community? https://nda.blog.gov.uk/2021/01/14/what-good-will-the-gdf-do-for-its-community/ Posted by: Mike Brophy - Head of Community Engagement at Radioactive Waste Management, Posted on: 14 January 2021 - Categories: Waste management Long-term benefits A community that hosts a geological disposal facility (GDF) for radioactive waste will help solve a huge problem for the UK, not just for now, but once and for all. And for the community itself, the benefits linked to this £multi-billion investment will also be immense. Funding benefits would start quickly, and jobs benefits would go on to last for generations. Any infrastructure project of £billions will create thousands of jobs, many of them highly skilled. What makes a GDF different, is that while the initial GDF construction phase will stretch over around 10 years and require a workforce of up to 2,000 during the peak period – the total construction and operation will take well over 100 years, employing local people and supporting local businesses all the time. Construction activities will continue throughout its operational lifetime as the network of tunnels and vaults are extended stage by stage. A GDF will be receiving waste for more than a century and is expected to support thousands of jobs, both full-time at the facility and, more indirectly, in the supply chain. Local opportunities Some jobs will require external specialists, but many skills will be available locally, along with suppliers. We plan to recruit as many local people and businesses as possible, as well as invest in training to build sufficient expertise for the operational years ahead. When we understand more about a potential location, we’ll be able to develop a clearer picture. A GDF requires a skilled workforce and would also create wide-ranging future training opportunities Just as Sellafield in Cumbria has attracted an influx of specialised nuclear businesses and led to the establishment of Britain’s Energy Coast, with nuclear-focused educational initiatives, so a GDF would attract inward investment. Generations of people will have opportunities develop their skills and take advantage of new employment and training initiatives. Well-paid work also increases spending power, supporting a wide range of local businesses. Amenities and infrastructure A GDF could also require associated infrastructure such as enhanced road, rail networks, or portside improvements. In Sweden, for example, plans for a GDF include a new ferry terminal and train services linking the host community of Forsmark to the capital city, Stockholm. Depending on the location eventually selected, infrastructure upgrades may be required In the UK, the host community will develop a vision for the long term, which could include better transport links, broadband, education, healthcare facilities or environmental improvements. Remember how spoil from the London 2012 Olympic Park construction was used to create a new nature reserve? As we move forward and are able to focus, for example, on a realistic geological setting in a specific area, RWM will commission a detailed study of the anticipated requirements for skills, expertise and training. Investing in the community Of course, a GDF will also bring significant benefits well ahead of construction. Before we even contemplate construction, we need a community’s informed consent, which can involve a commitment to asking questions, reading resources, attending meetings and more. To avoid overburdening a community, government funding is available to cover the costs of meetings and seeking out information from print or online sources. The opportunity to take part in such a massive decision is also about communities deciding what they want for their own future. Once members of the Working Group and the wider community, together with Radioactive Waste Management, arrive at the point where they wish to form a Community Partnership, community investment funding of up to £1 million a year will be available. A Community Partnership forms after the Working Group has engaged locally and identified one or more prospective Search Areas. This figure rises to up to £2.5 million a year once deep borehole investigations start, part of the process to understand the geology. Early funding available And in allocating resources, the Community Partnership will listen first and foremost to local views and priorities, for example, supporting sports, economic development, community wellbeing, investing in young people, expanding libraries, etc. Local people will be able to seek funding for relevant projects. The commitment to early funding arose from reviewing previous GDF discussions which ended in 2013. Throughout the process, people understood that the GDF would have brought massive benefits – but when the process ended, none of those benefits could be realised. Now, communities can use the investment funding before any commitment to a GDF, benefitting from engaging in the process whatever the outcome. Everyone benefits The combination of different funding, investments and other benefits means that a GDF will improve life for the host community’s people now, as well as over the facility’s multi-generational life. Before I joined Radioactive Waste Management, one of my jobs was setting up a charity for a utility company. I had to find ways to make sure the company’s charity work wasn’t just handing out dollops of money, but actually making a difference. Supporting infrastructure and other long-term projects translates community investment into real social good. Improving assets such as schools or the landscape is one of the fairest ways to ensure everyone benefits over the whole life of the project. There are many ways your community could gain from taking part in this project, to whatever extent you want. If you’d like to know more, feel free to Contact Us.g You may also be interested in: • Communities and GDF: Working in Partnership • Sweden's planned repository for spent fuel • How Sweden's site was chosen • Reflections from a community • Economic impact of Sellafield, 2017 report by Oxford Economics It is so full of distortions, fake facts and blatant untruths, it is hard to know where to start in correctingthis article. Let me just say even Mr Brophy must know the sub-headline Everyone benefits is total, demonstrable bullshit. It makes me cry they continue to write such appalling fake information. And finally, here is the additional local news story RWML also published.. If I lived in Allderdale, or any of the adjoining or nearby local districts in Cumbria, I would be very angry indeed at this article. Let me just say one of these local offers by Cumbrian landowners to render their locality a national sacrifice area proudly proclaims it is outside the world famous Lake District national park. It is, but the surface works to the 22 kilometers of tunnels, some possibly stretching out under the Irish Sea, would be if they go ahead, only two kilometres form the national park. What other country would do that? Allerdale GDF Working Group formed to discuss geological disposal of radioactive waste Today in Allerdale, a Working Group has been formed to start local engagement on whether somewhere in Allerdale could be a suitable location for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for higher activity radioactive waste. This is the first stage of the search for a suitable site and to understand the views of people across Allerdale about possibly hosting a GDF. It follows the formation of a GDF Working Group in Copeland in November. The Working Group will include, among others, Allerdale Borough Council, Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), and private company GenR8 North Ltd. A GDF will only be built where there is both a willing community and a suitable site. Establishing a Working Group is just the starting point for engaging with people in a process that will take several years. No potential site has been chosen and this first step is about engaging with people across the community and beginning to understand their views. It’s about looking to identify both a Search Area for further consideration and the initial membership for a larger Community Partnership that could take the discussion further with RWM. If a potentially suitable site were to be identified by a Community Partnership in due course, then the community around that site will get to choose if they want to host a GDF. Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, Independent Chair of the Allerdale GDF Working Group, said: “This is the beginning of a long process, and I want people to get involved from the very start to help to steer our way. A GDF in Allerdale could be a major boost to the area’s future prosperity and the skill base of its workforce. However, as a borough of outstanding natural beauty, with valuable habitats and cultural heritage, it’s also essential that any potential development doesn’t impact upon the things that make Allerdale a special place. That’s why it’s so important that the people of Allerdale have access to information, can ask questions and raise their issues and concerns before any decisions are made” “I believe the Working Group needs a Chair who is committed to making sure that people are heard and able to participate and engage. I'm passionate about protecting our natural environment, and also about the sustainability of our communities, so I look forward to starting this process and meeting local people. As Independent Chair it's my job to challenge, ask questions and ensure the process is rigorous, transparent and evidence based”. Mark Walker, Director of GenR8 North Ltd said “We came forward with a proposal to consider Allerdale and we’re clear that the National Park must be excluded. We don’t have a specific site in mind, but as the UK is going to build a GDF, we believe West Cumbria should get the opportunity to host it. We’re just kicking off the process - any future decision needs to be based on accurate, factual analysis of the geological conditions, and crucially, should be taken by local people” “I think we owe it to our future generations to deliver a long-term sustainable solution for this waste. It’s a legacy we simply have to deal with and surface storage as we have today, mostly nearby at Sellafield, is only temporary. We want to see how a GDF could help secure the long-term economic, skills-based regeneration of West Cumbria. We shouldn’t underestimate the potential a project like this could have, particularly around unlocking investment in infrastructure and the development of sustainable skilled jobs”. Councillor Marion Fitzgerald, Executive Member, Allerdale Borough Council, said “Allerdale’s participation in the Working Group is not a signal that the council has decided that a GDF should come here, that will be for the people to decide. What we do want is to make sure that our residents are aware of what a GDF coming to Allerdale could mean for them in terms of the potential benefits associated with this national infrastructure project. This is a long-term project that could deliver significant long-term benefits in terms of investment in infrastructure, jobs and skills, that is why it is so important that our community has an opportunity to be involved in the process”. All engagement information can be found at: https://allerdale.workinginpartnership.org.uk ENDS Media Contacts Duncan Flint - RWM Mobile: 07803495577 Email: email@example.com Notes 1. A GDF will be made up of highly engineered vaults and tunnels located deep underground or deep in the rocks under the seabed, designed to protect people and the environment and keep the radioactive waste safe and secure while the radioactivity naturally decays to safe levels. 2. Successive UK Governments, supported by scientific advice, agree that this is the right long-term solution for our higher activity radioactive waste, and there is overwhelming international consensus, with similar programmes now underway in Canada, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries. 3. The independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommends that geological disposal, coupled with safe and secure interim storage, is the best available approach for the long-term management of the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste. 4. The search for a host community is a nationwide process, based on community consent, and includes detailed investigations to make sure there is a suitable site to construct a safe and secure GDF. If the independent regulators don’t agree that a GDF can be designed, constructed and operated safely and securely in a location, then it won’t be built. About the Allerdale Working Group The Working Group in Allerdale is made up of an interested party (GenR8 North Ltd) which first asked RWM to consider whether there was any potential for a GDF to be located in the area, an independent Chair, independent facilitator, RWM and Allerdale Borough Council. The group will begin local discussions and fact-finding with the community. Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong is the independent Chair of the Allerdale GDF Working Group. A former member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for the past eight years, where she served as deputy Chair, Jocelyn is committed to the protection of the natural environment. Jocelyn has also run a national legal charity, supporting refugee organisations, and served on boards of several charities, including a range of roles for Citizens Advice. She has also previously served as a lay member of the local health group of Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust and as an independent member of Cumbria Police Authority. Jocelyn is also Chief Executive of a business and IT consultancy supporting customers in the IT and media sectors. About the GDF siting Process Establishing a Working Group is just the starting point for engaging with the community, in a process that will take several years. The Working Group will identify and propose a Search Area for further consideration in the search for potentially suitable sites, engage citizens across the community to begin to understand their views, and recruit initial members for a Community Partnership with RWM that could take the process further forward. Setting up the longer-term Community Partnership will trigger access to an immediate £1 million per year of community investment funding, available for projects and initiatives that drive economic development of the area, improve the local environment, or community well-being. This figure will increase to £2.5 million per year per community if deep borehole drilling investigations are undertaken, but the major benefit is how a GDF might help the community’s very long-term vision for itself. A key task for the Community Partnership therefore will be developing that vision, which can underpin future significant additional investment in the community that succeeds in hosting a GDF. The relevant Principal Local Authorities on the Community Partnership can agree to withdraw the community at any point. When ready, the relevant Principal Local Authorities on the Community Partnership will decide on a timeframe for seeking community agreement through a Test of Public Support (e.g. a local referendum, a formal consultation, or statistically representative polling). About RWM Radioactive Waste Management, formed in 2014, is responsible for geological disposal to manage higher activity waste in England and Wales by finding a willing community and suitable site to construct and operate a UK GDF for the long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste. RWM is a public organisation and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.