Easter – a time of nest building, the sparrows choose carefully..

'Sparrows nest in Slough'
‘Sparrows nest in Slough’

a message from Slough ……

“Choosing where human habitations are to be built has always been a serious business, and our ancestors took a great deal of care to ensure that the chosen site would not only be safe from any dangerous features, but that it should also actively promote a healthy life for those destined to live on it.

In these days of Health and Safety rules and regulations, you would think that in our present state of knowledge, we would take even more care to make sure that building sites fulfilled the highest possible standards in ensuring health, wouldn’t you?

So what if we told you that there is an approved plan to build a massive housing development in an area that is known to be heavily contaminated with radioactive waste and toxic chemicals known to cause cancer? You don’t believe it? Well, you had better believe it, because it is true, and is about to happen in the Upton Park area of Slough in an area where nuclear reactors were built, and where the radioactive waste was disposed of by simply burying it and WHERE IT IS STILL ACTIVE.

It was only in the following year (1963) that Government regulations dealing with the disposal of radioactive waste were published. By the way, did you know that the huge incinerator at the side of the Colnbrook bypass also incinerates radioactive waste? The toxic chemical is 3,4 benzpyrene. Look it up on Google. It’s nasty stuff.

Now the point of all this, and the reason for constructing this website http://nuclearslough.wordpress.com/ is that people who have researched this project have already alerted the local authority to the great risks to human health that could follow this building project, and the result? Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

Unbelievably, they have not only taken no notice of objections, but have given the green light for construction to start in ONE MONTH’S TIME! We believe that this is scandalous, and makes a complete mockery of existing Health and Safety legislation, and we want as many people as possible to know about this disgraceful situation, so that this ill-conceived project is stopped dead in its tracks.

Please join us”.

Event on Easter Monday … http://www.facebook.com/events/459438277462085/

Radiation Free Lakeland fully support those working against terrible odds to expose and stop nuclear contamination

Morecambe Bay – Headspace where there should be Opposition to Nuclear

Viaduct for nuclear trains across Morecambe Bay
View of the Viaduct across Morecambe Bay where nuclear waste travels across en-route to Sellafield

Last tues a few members of Radiation Free Lakeland held a protest outside the Morecambe Bay Partnership conference. Comments from people attending the meeting included “what are you doing outside? Nuclear is so big you should be inside talking about it.” Thats true but there is a big space where any criticism of new nuclear at Sellafield should be and instead it is being presented by the Morecambe Bay Partnership and others as a fait accompli with only the impact from pylons allowed a look in!

We handed out leaflets and spoke to the local press. Meanwhile the Morecambe Bay Partnership is celebrating its £2M funding, local conservation and tourist organisations are hoping for a slice. Groups who should be making some noise about the prospect of new nuclear build in the vicinity of what is already the most dangerous nuclear site in the world are keeping their heads down.

Morecambe Bay Partnership - Leaflet:Radiation Free Lakeland March 26 2013
Morecambe Bay Partnership – Leaflet:Radiation Free Lakeland March 26 2013

Stop the nuclear experiment in Morecambe Bay ….



Science magazine “Nature” displays Unnatural bias for Dump


Following Cumbria County Council’s rational decision to say no to the geological dumping of high level nuclear waste under Cumbria, Nature, the prestigious science mag, produced an editorial which could have been written by nuclear spin doctors. http://www.nature.com/news/in-a-hole-1.12361

Here is Professor David Smythe’s letter of rebuttal published on 28th Feb in Nature….

Nuclear-waste site geology is paramount

As a former geological adviser to the UK government on nuclear- waste repositories, I would like to clarify some points in your discussion of the quest for a British nuclear-waste disposal site (Nature 494, 5–6; 2013).

Nirex was a UK government agency (not an “independent group”) that was set up in 1982 to find a geologically suitable site. In 1991, it chose Sellafield in Cumbria — one of two nuclear industry sites — from a list of 537 potentially available locations. Neither of these two sites was among the geologically most suitable, according to Nirex’s seven-stage selection process. Its 1997 planning application for an underground laboratory at Longlands Farm, near Sellafield, failed because the inquiry inspector concluded that Nirex did not understand the site’s complex geology (see

The government’s 2008 White Paper, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS), put the fact that Cumbria volunteered to consider housing the waste ahead of scientific considerations. This contravenes international guidelines and practice in which national geological searches are conducted before seeking permission from local communities.

To some, this seemed like a back-door attempt to return to the Sellafield district, ignoring both the inspector’s original report and the geological problems of the area (see go.nature.com/wob9rf ).

You blame a “lack of political will” for the failure of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency to “sell the facility to local residents”. On the contrary, the now-defunct West Cumbria MRWS process spent £3.5 million (US$5.3 million) on publicity over the past two years.

So Cumbria County Council has demonstrated strong political will by listening to both the geological and the democratic arguments against proceeding with a deep repository for nuclear waste in the region.

David Smythe University of Glasgow, UK.

Radioactive Y-fronts and the limits of Parliamentary scrutiny

MrsTiggy-Wwinkle'sLaundry-hot smalls

Last week Open Democracy/Our Kingdom published an article highlighting the outsourcing of Sellafield’s dirty laundry. Today the Sellafield press office confirm that there has been “an interruption to the sites water supply” and that the situation is ongoing. This no doubt means that Sellafield will be sending its backlog of “non active” dirty laundry out to Shortridge at Lillyhall (who also service the tourist industry) and the highly contaminated laundry will be going to Crumlin in South Wales. Given the rumours – will the Sellafield laundry staff be sorting the laundry carefully?



Radioactive Y-fronts and the limits of Parliamentary scrutiny
This week the nuclear industry and its Westminster friends celebrated the dawning of a new age, as French energy giant EDF won planning consent to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset. Meanwhile, in Cumbria, elderly Sellafield contracts out its dirty laundry.

Not long ago I received an anonymous tip that the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant has been outsourcing its dirty washing to a company that serves hotels and restaurants in Scotland and the North of England. I’m an activist keeping a watchful eye on the nuclear industry and what passes for local democracy here in Cumbria (I’m an artist but a few years back I co-founded Radiation Free Lakeland). All sorts of stories come my way. I checked this one out.

Public sector tenders revealed that Shortridge Laundry does indeed have a contract to provide Sellafield with a “towel and work wear recycling service” worth between £50,000 and £600,000. I phoned Shortridge. They confirmed to me that they washed Sellafield’s “non-active” laundry, including underwear, on a contingency basis.

Since Shortridge discharges its waste-water into the public sewers, I asked the Environment Agency: Who is responsible for checking for accidental contamination?

The Agency replied: “There is no new pathway for accidental and routine releases of radioactivity as Shortridge Laundry is only contracted for non-active (i.e. non-contaminated) laundry. Hence there is no requirement or responsibility for monitoring. Sellafield Ltd is responsible for ensuring that only non-active laundry is sent to Shortridge Laundry and has arrangements in place to achieve this (e.g. monitoring of clothing).”

So, Shortridge is relying entirely on Sellafield to do the monitoring. OK. Right.

This story goes beyond the comic possibilities of radioactive underpants. Government, the regulators and the nuclear industry are actively encouraging private business to take government contracts, often under the guise of “decommissioning”. For example ‘recycling’ radioactive scrap metal for commercial release onto the open market, and monitoring and retrieval of alpha rich particles from certain Cumbrian beaches. (PDF)

The result is new pathways for accidental and routine release of radiation into the wider environment of Cumbria.

On Tuesday, in Parliament, the minister for energy and climate change Ed Davey declared that the government had given the go-ahead for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. “Affordable new nuclear will play a critical role in a secure, diverse electricity supply for Britain and make a significant contribution to the transition to the low-carbon economy needed to tackle climate change,” he declared.

Davey’s Shadow, Labour’s Caroline Flint, hailed this “important milestone in the development of new nuclear build in the UK”, gently reminding the minister, “we should also recognise the contribution of the communities that host them on our behalf”.

The minister promised a “package” of “community benefits” which “will be announced in due course”.

Hinkley’s local MP, the Conservative Ian Liddell-Grainger, could scarcely contain himself. His response, worthy of a character from Anthony Trollope, is quite something:

“This is a very good day for Britain and a phenomenally good day for Bridgwater and West Somerset,” said the member for Bridgwater and West Somerset. “I thank not only the Front-Bench team, which has been phenomenally important in that, but the Opposition, and especially the Leader of the Opposition, who signed this off when he was Minister of State.”

That wasn’t all of it: “I am incredibly grateful to the House,” he went on. “And my constituents are more than grateful to everyone here who has played such an important part,” he said, forgetting those of his constituents who vigorously oppose the nuclear industry.

“The importance of the announcement is that we can now kick-start the civil nuclear programme in the United Kingdom, and that is crucial.” There was no stopping him. “The innovation, jobs and input from across the industry are staggering. The Nuclear Industry Association is holding its conference across the road from here at the Queen Elizabeth centre, and it is like a cat on a hot tin roof, ready to go.”

Unfortunate imagery. Never mind. “We are Hinkley-ready,” fizzed Liddell-Grainger, “and we will be on time and on schedule”.

With Parliamentary scrutiny like that, who needs community-based activism?

Everything OK in Morecambe Bay! Just the pesky pylons!

Everything OK in Morecambe Bay
Everything OK in Morecambe Bay

Tomorrow Radiation Free Lakeland will be holding a demonstration outside the Morecambe Bay Partnership AGM in Grange from 9 till 10

– No to Moorcide – No to Heysham
– no nuclear build – no nuclear waste!-

VENUE: Victoria Hall, Grange over Sands – nr the railway station

We have asked to speak at the Morecambe Bay conference in previous years on the impacts of nuclear. Instead of any concerns about the impacts of existing and new build on the Bay, the conference will be hearing about the proposed new Moorcide plant …..and the damage those pesky pylons might cause!

This is an insult to Cumbrians, the irreversible damage to health, environment and economy from new nuclear build would be much more significant than pylons.

It would be great to see people there – but realise this is very short notice – there WILL be a demo – even if its a few people – we must get the message out that new build is not a fait accompli as this conference suggests.

more info here:

Breaking! Sellafield, the BBC and EURDEP lie to cover up contamination incident! Irish coast hit!

Below is analysis of the situation at Sellafield from Sean at nuclear-news

Snow at Sellafield
Snow at Sellafield

Some thoughts on the likely scenario concerning the latest emergency at the Sellafield nuclear site.

I have been asked to make some comment on the possible problems that have occurred at Sellafield where the workers had to don gas masks and vacate the site..
During some investigation last year of air quality issues during the worst pollution incidents in the UK for some years (Yep! During the Oilympics too! Shhh!)(reported on the Kings College pollution watch website) . The Air had an isotopic quality during these incidents which likely caused Lead poisoning in some wild birds.. The isotopic content came from nuclear waste, Medical and Nuclear Power plants from the UK and Europe..

Going by the evidence thus far:
I managed to access EURDEP radiation monitoring and got proof that the system (meant to be used by the emergency services in the case of an accident), has been switched off.. this was normal practise and the map developer in Italy was never informed of these switch offs and was surprised when I talked with him.. the other main server is in Germany and that is where it was likely switched off from, not the Italian server..

This graph shows the UK monitoring switch off that is not present on the Irish graphs below!

Data points for above graph showing increases and last data point are given below..

The Chart I accessed shows some movement from after midnight on the morning of the 22 March 2013 and the chart is finally switched off at 12 noon on the 22 March 2013
(It Is normal for most European countries to ignore radon peaks and some actually scrub them of the charts others like CRIIRAD show them but make a note to say it is “Normal radon” its not easy to tell the difference)

The Low level wind chart shows the wind blowing to the north west and its possible some has moved down the channel as the east coast of Ireland shows a higher reading on the coastal monitoring stations. I was unable to access the gamma measurements as the German EURDEP crowd have blocked any further access to this data.. ( a sure sign of dodgy goings on and possibly more accurate proof than the mostly dysfunctional EURDEP mapping system)

So the likely scenario is that the wind conditions have caused the gases that flow up the smoke stacks to come down to the ground instead of rising up and away towards the “civvies”. The gases have likely swamped the site and although they had to wear masks there “is no danger to” David Cameron and his friends! However the same may not be said of the workers .. some of whom may need to take a dose break leaving Sellafield understaffed and this may pose a “significant” danger to David Cameron and his friends. Might make them think!

Down-drafts, from Stacks are rare but DO occur. As an aside this scenario where a down-draft causes local site contamination is the only time that the official IAEA ring a round the nuke plant actually sort of works. In most cases the plume lands a distance away from the plant, leaving the local area relatively clean. These down-drafts are likely the cause of local leukaemia in children and cancers in adults. Even Radon is nasty.

They may be packing plutonium in Glass (vitrification) and one hopes that they have not released any plutonium waste products.

more detail and maps here:


Last Friday there was a problem – this Friday there is shut down

The plant said it has robust emergency procedures (Sellafield)
The plant said it has robust emergency procedures (Sellafield)

Last Friday a broken pipe at Sellafield caused disruption to water supply. Sellafield quickly issued a statement to quash rumours that the incident was affecting the whole site with workers needing decontamination scrubs being held in decontamination units because there was no water for showers, washing, toilets etc. This was denied by Sellafield in a press statement.

This Friday “adverse weather conditions” have led to a “controlled shut down.” Sellafield is not a wind farm it cannot be “shut down” – the wastes need to be cooled and monitored 24/7. Meanwhile nuclear cheerleaders are agitating for much more of the same with the push for new and much more dangerous nuclear madness on a greefield site near Sellafield – ‘Moorcide’.

Rumours are that this is much more serious than a “controlled shut down” due to snow and blizzards. This is not a “town” with loose slates and dustbins flying around as the Sellafield press office has implied. These buildings are supposed to have been built to withstand terrorist attack and the most adverse conditions that can be imagined.
Snow and blizzard should be small beer.

Cracked Pipe last Friday

Sellafield water disruption caused no nuclear or environmental safety issues

Sellafield shut by snow this Friday

Did comic art save Cumbria from the nuclear dump?

The article below is published on the excellent Open Democracy/Our Kingdom website

Radioactive Reds!_1

Did comic art save Cumbria from the nuclear dump?

Earlier this year, Cumbria county council woke up to the reality behind decades of government propaganda and nuclear industry spin and rejected a plan to bury radioactive waste in England’s Lake District.

What Cumbria needed was a super hero to lead a revolt against the government plan to build a mega mine under Cumbria filled with the world’s plutonium. That’s what comic books are traditionally for isn’t it — super heroes saving the world?

My days used to be spent happily painting wildlife with a bit of anti-nuclear campaigning on the side. Slowly the balance tipped. The reason? Sheer frustration and growing anger, deeper than anger, at the government plan to bury heat generating nuclear waste under Cumbria in a hole (or two) deeper that Scafell is high. Surely, I thought, all the conservation and environmental NGOs would get together as they had back in the 1990s to lead the charge against this insane plan? Fat chance! Following a lot of pleading, the dawning realisation that national NGOs were not going to ride to the rescue hit the pit of the stomach like a lead balloon.

So, with a few good friends we formed Radiation Free Lakeland in November 2008. This followed a furious council meeting in which Cumbria County Councillors were not allowed to vote on whether or not to “express an interest” in a nuke dump. The decision was to be left to the Cabinet.

It was at that Cabinet meeting that the first cartoon characters made an appearance on a small placard, three red squirrels sat on barrels of nuclear waste “Hear no Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil” making reference to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s social fund, the obscene tax payer funded nuclear slush fund which has saturated almost every facet of Cumbrian life. PDF

Not even the red squirrels are free of the insidious nuclear largesse or “poisoned sweets” as the Japanese call it. Despite an excellent presentation by Dr Ian Fairlie to the Cumbria Cabinet on radiation risks the decision in 2008 to “express an interest” was taken by a handful of Cabinet members. The national press called Cumbria a “willing volunteer” who could expect financial “compensation” for providing a service to UK. Radiation Free Lakeland were and are all “volunteers” in the dictionary definition of the word, that is, requiring no financial inducement. The No Nuke Dump message wasn’t easy to get out. It seemed the national press wasn’t interested at all despite being bombarded by us with press releases and phone calls. Meanwhile the local press and local radio seemed much more interested in accusing us of scaremongering. This despite the fact we were very naïve about the scale of the dump, initially describing it as being as deep as the Eiffel Tower. Three Eiffel Towers is nearer the mark!

Comic Art percolated in my head while writing rounds of letters and emails to councillors in the knowledge that most of the information we were sending was being binned faster than the junk mail. The inspiration for the first book came during a sponsored walk around Wastwater. One of the generous sponsors that day was a diver whose aunt takes in Chernobyl children for holidays, giving a boost to their radiation-damaged immune systems. Wastwater is popular with divers who bizarrely place garden gnomes at great depths. They risk their lives for this act of bravado — an individual choice to dive deep and set up Gnome gardens in England’s deepest lake.

‘The Wastwater Gnomes’ explores the relationship of Wastwater to the nuclear industry and questions the sanity of new build and new, much more dangerous wastes, when cooling the existing waste requires 4 million gallons of fresh water from Britain’s Favourite View daily. A Norwegian government-commissioned report in March 2009 said that a sustained stoppage of water to the cooling tanks would be 50 times worse than Chernobyl. On the 1st of April the same year there was a stoppage of cooling water at Sellafield, described as being “hours away from catastrophe.”

Tom and Ellen, a gentle unassuming Lakeland couple trying to make sense of the government plan are the protagonists of the 2nd comic book, ‘When the Water Flows’. The main theme was the slippage between the truth and the propaganda machine of the optimistically titled Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership.

Its aim seemed to be to normalize and underplay the plan. Eric Robson, the BBC voice of Gardener’s Question Time was enlisted to provide the reassuring voice-over on the video playing at the village hall drop-in meetings. Robson is the Chair of Cumbria Tourism and the part owner of Osprey Communications, the PR company awarded the lucrative MRWSP contract. PDF

Public relations strategy documents from 2004 obtained by the organisation Nuclear Spin reveal that the government agency overseeing the storage of radioactive waste appreciates the need “to be sure that opinion leaders are carefully recruited and groomed.” And boy have we been groomed over the last decade or so. The Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive changed its name to Nirex which changed its name to Managing Radioactive Waste Safely. That sounds so much safer. Doesn’t it?

‘Swallows and Amazons. For You. For Life.’ is the third title in the series. Tom and Ellen continue their journey to find out the truth about the government plan, the journey is fraught with questions, who is telling the truth? There are real heroes in this story, the scientists who have provided astonishing amounts of work and time for free. Those include Dr Rachel Western, Dr Helen Wallace, Dr Ian Fairlie and Professors Smythe and Haszeldine (writing here on openDemocracy). Professors Smythe and Haszeldine are not opposed to geological disposal of nuclear waste in principle, believing there may be suitable areas elsewhere in the UK. They have, however emphatically stated that Cumbria is definitely not suitable, likening the geology to that of a leaky bowl.

The comic books and Radiation Free Lakeland take the same view as outlined in Rock Solid? the scientific review by Dr Helen Wallace, that the science is not yet sufficiently advanced and may never be to ensure safe geological disposal anywhere. (See Dr Wallace’s lectures here.) The wastes should be contained where they can be monitored and then if there is a problem something can be done. Professor Haszeldine also pointed out rather scarily that “Emplacement of hot wastes will force rock to expand, with the strong probability that new fractures will be created. The fractures can allow radioactive gas to rapidly leak to the surface. Land users and housing at the land surface will be uplifted.” PDF

Under the weight of public pressure, Cumbria County Council at last voted against the government’s nuclear dump on 30 January this year.

So did Comic Art Save Cumbria? Of course not, no more than the 38 Degree petitions did. Or the demonstrations at Ennerdale, Bowness and Carlisle. Or the excellent music gig at Silloth. Or the vigorous 3 Weeks to Save the Lakes Facebook campaign. But as with all the cumulative actions, letters and conversations over beer in pubs, comic art may have played a tiny part of the bigger picture.

A few days after the vote, Rory Stewart, the Conservative MP for Penrith and the Borders wrote: “Those people who actually wanted the repository to be built in Cumbria felt that a gradual scientific process had been derailed by instinct and politics. Those who opposed it felt it was a triumph of grass-roots activism, and of a democratic and responsive council. Both supporters and critics have a point. But the fundamental problem was the government’s failure to win the public’s trust. And having seen the irrational, unchallenged momentum in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public has reason to doubt the objectivity of government, when it is short of options.”

Comic Art may have helped change perception and create a bit of space in the Cumbrian and national consciousness for perspectives other than the government’s entrenched “steps towards geological disposal”.

Liar Liar Nuclear Pants on Fire

Bird on a Wire - Sellafield
Bird on a Wire – Sellafield

The BBC continue to warm the cockles of nuclear cheerleaders hearts with misleading propaganda or it could be that they are genuinely confused between ENERGY and ELECTRICITY. Today government gave the thumbs up to EDF’s obscene ambitions at Hinkley. If nuclear could meet ALL OUR ENERGY ‘needs’ rather than a pitiful FEW PERCENT of our ELECTRICITY ‘needs’ the costs would still be too great.

Please write to the BBC and object…excellent letter below from Neil Crumpton to the Chair of the BBC

From: Neil Crumpton
Date: 19 March 2013 10:15:53 GMT
To: Roger Harrabin roger.harrabin@bbc.co.uk

Subject: BBC boosting nuclear power by a factor of 5 AGAIN – public
information issue

Dear Roger,

In the BBC news story below the article (which is slanted very pro
Hinkley C by the way) says that the 3.2 GW Hinkley C power station would
generate 7 % of UK ENERGY needs.

On Tuesday, the government is expected to approve planning permission
for EDF Energy to build the first new nuclear power plant for a
generation. Hinkley C would be one of the UK’s biggest infrastructure
projects in years. The plan is to build two reactors, which together
would generate 3.2GW of electricity. That’s 7 % of the UK’s energy
needs, and enough to power five million homes. Rupert Cox remembers as a
boy seeing Hinkley B being built. Now, as chief executive of Somerset
Chamber of Commerce, he is hopeful that the huge project will make a
lasting difference.

BBC 18th March 2013


This is WRONG by a factor of 5 – electricity is NOT energy. Hinkley C
would generate about 1.6 % of UK energy needs (please see basic
arithmetic below) or about 6.5 % on UK electricity.

I have contacted the BBC several times over the years to try and correct
this basic error (of confusing electricity with ‘final’ energy)
obviously to no avail on this most important day.

Could you please ask your colleagues to use accurate information as fast
as possible this morning, as this mis informs the public greatly to the
considerable benefit of the proposed new-nuclear power programme.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Neil Crumpton

Chair , Planet Hydrogen

3.2 GW x 8,760 hours per year x 90 % capacity factor* = 25,229 GWh per
year = 25 TWh per year

* assuming the plant operates at 90 % output over its life – termed

UK energy demand if the early 2020s may be down to around 1,600 TWh per
year (DECC estimate higher). Its around 1,630 TWh per year now excluding
aviation and shipping (an additional 150 + 50 TWh per year)

So 25.229 / 1600 = 1.58 %


UK FINAL energy use in 2011 was 140,000 mtoe x 11.63 = 1,628 TWh per

In terms of electricity use Hinkley C might produce 6.5 % of UK
electricity in the 2020s (assuming National grid forecast of about 390
TWh per year in 2030 including transmission losses) ie 25 / 390 = 6.5 %
of electricity (not even 7 %)

Tim Farron has agreed to ask Ed Davey questions on deep dumping of nuclear waste

No mean NO!
No mean NO!

Tim Farron will meet with Ed Davey today to ask questions posed by Radiation Free Lakeland.

Noises are being made by DECC and some nuclear cheerleaders in Copeland and Allerdale suggesting that a “new process” may be banged down on the table to keep Cumbria in the running for a nuke dump. Given Cumbria’s reaffirmed NO vote and the government’s myopic push for geological ‘disposal’ (rather than above ground storage) we are sure that other counties being eyed up will be interested in the following questions:

Geology – how did they turn unsuitable geology into suitable geology?)

Size of repository -with and without new-build?

Co-disposal -do we need one repository or two?

Swedish copper corrosion report -rates of corrosion much faster than predicted- safety implications?

Proliferation Risk Assessment?

1. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to explain the discrepancy between the statement in the Nuclear Policy Statement Volume II Annex para B2.2, that “over 30% of the UK has suitable geology for siting a deep geological disposal facility” and the statement in the original BGS reference that over 30% of the UK would be “potentially suitable” for such a repository.

2. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to explain the inclusion of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group of rock near Sellafield as suitable for a repository in Nuclear Policy Statement Volume II Annex para B2.2, in the light of the findings of the Nirex Inquiry in 1997 that this rock is unsuitable for a repository.

3. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to provide a copy of the study underpinning the statement by MRWS Cumbria that the anticipated ‘footprint’ of the underground facilities associated with a nuclear waste repository could range from 6km² to 25km².

4. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to clarify in the light of CoRWM Document 2550, July 2009, paragraphs 12.30-12.39, regarding the different chemical conditions needed for underground repositories of high-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste, whether a single underground repository can safely accommodate both types of waste.

5. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has made any assessment of the safety implications of report SSM 2013: 07, published by the Swedish nuclear waste regulators in January 2013, which indicates that copper casing for spent nuclear fuel in underground repository will corrode in groundwater much faster than expected and release hydrogen gas.

6. To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide a copy of any assessment made regarding the nuclear proliferation risk of endorsing a global expansion of nuclear reactors as a response to climate change, including proliferation risk associated with: (1) the separation of plutonium from spent nuclear fuel by reprocessing; and (2) the production of highly enriched uranium during nuclear fuel manufacture using centrifuges.

Background documents

Geology (how did they turn unsuitable geology into suitable geology?)

Nuclear Policy Statement Volume II Annex
B.2.2 Given international experience and the UK’s own research, the Government is confident that a geological disposal facility could be built which would meet regulatory approval. The British Geological Survey reported in 2006 that “over 30% of the UK has suitable geology for siting a deep geological disposal facility”25 and CORWM found that “there is high confidence in the scientific community that there are areas of the UK where the geology and hydrogeology at 200 metres or more below ground will be stable for a million years and more into the future” 26.

This cites the BGS paper attached.

25 UK Nirex Ltd and British Geological Survey, A note by the British Geological Survey and Nirex on the Suitability of UK Geology for Siting a Repository for Radioactive Waste, document 1797, March 2006.

A single sheet of paper from the BGS turns what the Nirex Inspector described as “unsuitable” geology into “potentially suitable” geology, and the NPS then turn this into “suitable” geology! Black = White in two easy steps.

Size of repository (with and without new-build)?

Spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste (HLW) resulting from reprocessing are both heat-emitting wastes and need to be spaced widely apart in a repository to keep the temperature below 100 deg C. Intermediate level waste (ILW) is a much bigger volume but doesn’t need to be widely spaced. New build reactors are also likely to use high burn-up fuel which is hotter and contains more radioactivity when it comes out of the reactor, so it may need wider spacing. Thus the volume of spent nuclear fuel from newbuild will take up a relatively large part of the rock needed for a repository. This is relevant to working out whether a big enough volume of rock can be found for deep disposal in the UK.

Campaigners have previously tried to work out the volumes: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/reports/RadwasteSept08.pdf (see Slide 11).
But these figures are not consistent with those given in the MRWS Cumbria document so the basis of these calculations is needed.

Co-disposal (do we need one repository or two?)

The Nirex wastes were intermediate-level waste (ILW) but the new proposed repository is supposed to take high-level waste (HLW) as well, and spent nuclear fuel (SNF). But ILW is normally stored in steel barrels expected to be backfilled with cement whilst HLW and SNF is expected to be backfilled with bentonite clay to hold the containers in place and trap radionuclides. This clay can be damaged if it’s near cement, as cement makes an alkaline plume of water which corrodes the clay. This means two separate repositories are likely to be needed.
This is explained in CoRWM Document 2550: http://corwm.decc.gov.uk/assets/corwm/post-nov%2007%20doc%20store/documents/reports%20to%20government/2009/2550%20corwm%20report%20on%20geological%20disposal%20final%2031%20july%2009.pdf
(paras 12.30 to 12.39).

Swedish copper corrosion report

Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) Report: http://www.stralsakerhetsmyndigheten.se/Publikationer/Rapport/Avfall-transport-fysiskt-skydd/2013/201307/ published 18th January 2013.

The relevance of this report is that the Swedish design for deep disposal of spent nuclear fuel assumes that copper is not corroded by water except in the presence of oxygen. It is assumed that spent nuclear fuel can be encased in copper and that the oxygen underground will all be used up soon after the repository is closed so the copper canisters last 100,000 years. But the author of this report Hultquist has been arguing for some time that he has discovered a previously unknown unknown reaction between copper and water which does not require dissolved oxygen (the oxygen is taken from splitting the water molecules themselves and hydrogen is given off). This recent report confirms he is right. This means the copper canisters will corrode much faster, allowing radioactive substances to leak out much sooner, and the hydrogen gas released could also pose risks to containment of the waste (because it has to get out of the repository through fractures in the rock). The Swedish regulator is currently saying that they won’t comment on the safety implications until the industry safety case is submitted to them in 2014. Rates of corrosion are provided only at room temperature but the repository will be at up to 100 degrees C, so the reaction will be much faster.

The (final) push for new-build reactors began when Gordon Brown’s brother Andrew became head of PR at EDF in October 2004: http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/227764/ . But the purpose of the PR strategy was to support a global expansion of nuclear reactors, not just in the UK, and nuclear was claimed to be part of a global solution to climate change (particularly at the G8 in 2008: http://inel.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/brown-interview-on-g8-climate-change-and-nuclear-reducing-dependence-on-oil/ ) . However, global expansion of nuclear power risks the proliferation of nuclear weapons: http://www.laka.org/docu/boeken/pdf/6-03-2-30-06.pdf . Blair and Brown told civil servants never to mention proliferation of nuclear weapons in the context of the UK nuclear new build programme. But it is hard to believe that no study exists of proliferation risk in the context of advocating nuclear power as a solution to climate change, as Brown did at the G8. Nuclear weapons have usually been made from plutonium which requires reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from reactors (dissolving it in acid to separate out the plutonium) as is done at Sellafield. Although any country with a nuclear power programme can use reprocessing to obtain plutonium, it is hard to build a secret reprocessing plant as this is a large-scale industrial complex which would be spotted by satellite and trigger inspections by the IAEA. But uranium centrifuges are much easier to conceal and are the basis of concerns about Iran and possibly the nuclear weapon test that North Korea is currently threatening now: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Uranium+nuclear+test+would+reason+worry+West/7910098/story.html .
These centrifuges allow enrichment of uranium (needed to make nuclear fuel for reactors) to a much higher level to make Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) which can potentially be used to make a bomb.
Concerns about HEU date from the discovery of the AQ Khan smuggling ring. AQ Khan was the father of the Pakistan nuclear weapons programme and stole the plans for uranium centrifuges from the part-British uranium nuclear fuel company URENCO (see: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/static/npp/Khan_Chronology.pdf ). The centrifuge plans were smuggled to Libya, Iran and North Korea and later Ghaddafi used them as a bargaining chip for deals with Blair and the West (see e.g.: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/behind-closed-doors-the-bewildering-dance-between-gaddafi-and-mi6-2343218.html ).