North West Evening Mail thursday 19th Sept 2013
IS NEW CONSULTATION NEEDED?
WAS the government right to announce a new consultation on a geological disposal facility for storing nuclear waste underground?
PROCESS Sellafield. Inset, a cross-section image of what a geological disposal facility could look like
THE Sellafield Workers’ Campaign welcomes the announcement from the government that it is to launch a new consultation to address the options for managing radioactive waste, writes CRAIG DOBSON, secretary of the SWC.
The new consultation will seek to find a suitable location for a geological disposal facility to house the UK’s nuclear waste.
It is imperative that the drift and delay of the last 30 years is not allowed to continue, and the announcement of this new consultation, so soon after the last MRWS (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) process failed to find a suitable site, is encouraging, because there was always the risk that this could have been kicked into the long grass.
It’s early days but if nothing else this shows that our country is still serious about housing a thriving nuclear industry, which will be welcomed by Sellafield and nuclear workers nationally.
The SWC was critical of Cumbria County Council’s decision to pull out of the process to look at finding a suitable site during the last consultation, before desktop studies had even been completed and hope that lessons are learnt from the last process.
Discussion at this stage should not be about the possible location; but given that the vast majority of the UK’s nuclear waste is already stored in West Cumbria, at Sellafield, you would expect local authorities to give the consultation some consideration, whether or not they decide to volunteer, and I’m sure they will.
The SWC also calls on the government, during the new consultation, to be more upfront about what benefits a host community can expect to receive.
The SWC fully supports the principle of volunteerism, but for any community, Cumbrian or otherwise, to volunteer they need to understand what they are volunteering for and what rewards will be available to them should they decide to carry out what will be an important national service.
We would hope that the government will be much clearer this time about what is on offer, and what is expected in exchange.
People can then make an informed, democratic decision.
FOLLOWING Nirex and the ending of the MRWS process with Cumbria County Council’s no vote, any new consultation regarding geological dumping should not include Cumbria, writes MARIANNE BIRKBY, founder of Radiation Free Lakeland.
This, of course, would mean that there would be no further “steps towards geological disposal” as there are no other volunteers.
Perhaps those MPs who have recently voted for new nuclear build and new and much more dangerous wastes should be actively encouraged by government to volunteer their own constituencies for geological disposal? In any case, Cumbria has already said no at least three times now. The 84 members of the county council have been airbrushed out of this new “democratic” process alongside the hundreds of members of the parish councils, the overwhelming majority of whom have said no repeatedly.
This leaves the seven people on the executive of Allerdale Borough Council and six people on the Copeland Borough Council executive. The wishes of less than 13 people who have voted to proceed are being promoted against the democratic will of the parishes and the county.
This is a scandal and the only reason for continuing with further consultations in Cumbria is in order to be seen to keep the “steps to geological disposal” going as a prerequisite for the new-build agenda.
In the absence of any genuine host volunteer community, the executives of Allerdale and Copeland are obliging patsies.
Radiation Free Lakeland does not believe the “solution” is geological disposal anywhere.
There is no solution, as such, but an acceptance that the waste needs to be looked after and repackaged again and again into eternity to separate it from the environment.
If the government is hell-bent on geological disposal, the people of Cumbria have said no and the search for a geological disposal site should continue elsewhere, most especially in the constituencies of those MPs who have voted for new nuclear build.
Please ensure that your parish council lets government know that you are not a willing community and that this new consultation which ends on December 8 is a sham.