Stop and Contain – Reprocessing at Sellafield is Insane

Paddington Bear From Deepest Darkest Peru to the UK
Paddington Bear From Deepest Darkest Peru to the UK

An open letter to Tim Farron..

Dear Tim,

Colleagues in the Bristol area have informed us that the third nuclear
train this week has just been loaded again today at Bridgwater Station. Every week
trains carrying radioactive nuclear waste in flasks from Hinkley Point
nuclear power station are loaded in the middle of Bridgwater, right next
door to Eastover Primary School.

On their route to Sellafield, they pass towns and villages close to
schools and residential areas. The ONLY reason the waste is going to
Sellafield (rather than being kept on the site where it arises and looked
after there) is for reprocessing and to clear the decks at existing
nuclear plants to make room for yet more nuclear waste.

As you know the original use for reprocessing was to separate the
Plutonium out of the spent fuel in order to make nuclear weapons. As
there is now enough plutonium to annihilate the world many times over that
use is rather beside the point. The sole reason given for reprocessing
now is that uranium reserves are dwindling and an alternative nuclear fuel
has to be sought. Breeder reactors. So called because they actually
create MORE plutonium than they use. This Breeder Reactor technology
proved too unreliable, too dangerous and too costly.

With the failure of commercial breeders, the UK decided to use the
plutonium in Mixed Oxide (MOX) for ordinary reactors. The problem with
this is that there are no customers for MOX fuel and there have been huge
demonstrations in Japan on the ‘return’ of MOX from Sellafield.
A new report ‘Needless Nuclear Reprocessing:The Bridge to Unnecessary
Risk’ has just been published. The report is written from the Japanese
view point but is equally if not even more resonant to Sellafield.

“Reprocessing is the bridge between nuclear power plants and nuclear
weapons. Fukushima showed us the unimagined and undiscussed dangers of
nuclear power plants. Japan has already experienced the damage inflicted
by nuclear weapons. Rather than remaining stuck with policies popular in
the 1960s, Japan needs to reroute its policies away from reprocessing
toward more effective spent fuel disposal”.

This is, if anything even more true for the UK and Sellafield’s
reprocessing activity. Reprocessing is supposed to end by 2020 if the UK
honours its commitment to the OSPAR treaty and stops sending radioactivity
out to sea. 2020 is too far away, every day radioactive wastes arrive at
Sellafield for insane reprocessing which needs a staggering £30M+ of gas
every year to provide fossil fuel for the reprocessing activity. Every
day radionuclides previously unknown to our environment are sent out to
sea only to be returned to our beaches with each tide. Alpha, gamma and
beta particle finds are increasing dramatically year on year. Inhalation
of these particles are known to cause radiation linked diseases,
especially in children and women.

The reason for reprocessing was supposedly to halt uranium use. This has
not happened despite nuclear cheerleaders best efforts to persuade us that
pixie dust is all that is needed. In the real world and as a direct result
of those nuclear cheerleaders, uranium mining is increasing dramatically
worldwide because nuclear technology in over 50 years and with £billions
spent on research is still based on digging up the raw radioactive
material out of the ground.

So much so that even the worlds most important tropical icecap in Peru is
now under imminent threat from mining by Canadian companies. These
Canadian companies are the UK’s suppliers. The Peruvian uranium would be
sent to Springfields in Preston to be enriched prior to use in reactors.
This is sheer lunacy. The fact that the media are staying shtum about the
threat to this ‘rosetta stone’ icecap reeks of an unhealthy collusion
between the nuclear industry and some government departments.

Reprocessing is continuing at Sellafield only because of precedent and
pride of successive governments.
• Reprocessing waste costs at least twice as much as storing it.

Even British Energy – once BNFL’s biggest reprocessing customer
declared reprocessing to be ‘economic nonsense’ and desperately tried to
cancel its contracts.

• Returning this reprocessed waste involves dangerous shipments of liquid
high-level waste and plutonium around the world. 
This is the option
that the government ordered in 1976. Weapons-usable plutonium has been
shipped from Europe to Japan, causing massive global protest.

• Radioactive waste is constantly being transported around the UK. One
cask of highly radioactive spent fuel elements contains approximately as

much radiation as was released in the Chernobyl accident.

We urge you to halt needless and dangerous reprocessing at Sellafield as a
matter of urgency and to make a change to the nuclear industry’s culture
*Make Worse and Disperse* to
**Stop and Contain**.

Many Thanks!

Yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby
Radiation Free Lakeland

Needless Nuclear Reprocessing: The Bridge to Unnecessary Risk

Nuclear Trains – Bristol

Time Table of Nuclear trains

Click to access 7872.pdf

Reprocessing Briefing

Click to access 4372.pdf

Ospar and Reprocessing

Click to access 5754.pdf

Radioactive Particles on beaches due to reprocessing

Warning Poster

Click to access a4-poster-radioactive-particles-have-been-found-on-this-beach.pdf

Springfields, Preston, UK
Processing several thousand tonnes of uranium a year, UK Fuel Business,
based at Springfields has the experience and technology to manufacture
fuel for all major designs of nuclear reactor across the globe.

Peru Ice Cap and Uranium Mining
Macusani Yellowcake Inc. is a Canadian uranium exploration and development
company currently focussed on the exploration of its Kihitian, Colibri 2 &
3, and Corachapi properties on the Macusani Plateau in south-eastern Peru.
The Quelccaya Icecap, the world’s largest icecap is near Corani-Macusani
and is also imperiled, as are Alpaca in their primary homeland, which is
the Macusani area. Entire Andean Communities and plants and animals are
endangered by this proposed mining.

7 thoughts on “Stop and Contain – Reprocessing at Sellafield is Insane

  1. Pingback: World Heritage Status – Lord Clark | Radiation Free Lakeland

  2. Reblogged this on Haiti Mining Awareness Plus and commented:
    This post very importantly explains the connection between the different stages of nuclear energy.  Uranium mining will be destructive to Peru, the homeland of the Andean Bear and the UK’s beloved Paddington bear.  The uranium, once mined, arrives in the UK only to cause problems there.  

    In addition to proposed uranium mining at Macusani-Corani by Macusani Yellowcake and others in the Macusani-Corani area, there is Bear Creek Mining which alleges to be silver, lead, and zinc “only”.  However, since it is a proposed open pit mine of about 50km2,  surrounded by about 900 km2 of proposed open pit uranium mining, uranium appears almost certainly at least a by-product.  The toxicity of lead is extreme and worrisome.  “Lead poisoning (also known as plumbism, colica Pictonum, saturnism, Devon colic, or painter’s colic) is a medical condition in humans and other vertebrates caused by increased levels of the heavy metal lead in the body. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.”

    The fact that there are no special distinctions between uranium and other mining in Peru makes their mining for uranium more probable.  Bearcreek’s CEO, Andrew Swarthout, used to be Exploration Manager for Kennecott Mexico.  Kennecott was accused ca 1999 of illegally mining uranium in Mexico.  It is not clear if he was there when this happened, however. 

    Bear Creek appears well-advanced in their permitting process.  The information that we have dates from their Technical Report, in December 2011.  We do not know what was presented in the Quechua language during the April 2013 public hearings.

    In the Technical Report, Bear Creek Mining lists what they consider chief environmental risks associated with this type of project.  They qualify the first three as “potential”.  However, in reality, they are pretty certain:  1) impacts to air quality from dust;  2) degradation of surface and groundwater quality (for some unfathomable reason English uses the term groundwater for underground water); 3) changes to the amount of surface and groundwater.  In theory, number 2 would be “potential”.  However, in practice, degradation of surface and groundwater quality generally (perhaps always) occurs.  They also add as chief risks: 4) visual impacts caused by the creation of pits, mine waste disposal facilities, roads, and other mine workings (in other words, this mining is UGLY); 5) permanent changes to land use resulting from mining activities.

    They provide a summary of baseline studies for existing air and water quality, and noise.  They note that air quality results were below the maximum permissible limits set by the national environmental standard for air.  As they observe, this reflects the absence of activities which produce significant pollution in the area.  In other words there is clean, pure, mountain air, which will be contaminated with diesel fumes from the mining, fumes from the blasting, and flying lead, radioactive and other types of dust.  See more in these posts:

    The Bear Creek Corani project appears to lack funding which is good.  However, if they are able to push through the Santa Ana mine project, which had been halted they may have the money for Corani (where the rock art is located), so the following is potentially very bad news for the Quelccaya icecap, the Corani Rock Art, the Alpaca and the Quechua:  
    “Peru, Bear Creek in talks on controversial Santa Ana silver mine
    Posted:Thu, 03 Oct 2013 17:49:11 -0400
    LIMA, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Peru’s government has restarted talks with Bear Creek Mining Corp over the Canadian company’s stalled Santa Ana silver project and hopes work on the mine can resume, the mines minister said on Thursday.”

  3. Ryan the Engineer

    You seem to have totally neglected the environmental advantages of spent fuel reprocessing, how convenient.

    By reprocessing, the 97% low level contaminants are removed from the fuel meaning that the remaining 3% can be safely stored without the requirements for proliferation resistant and large volume storage.

    You may not agree with nuclear power, period. However, being totally against reprocessing just shows how small and closed minded you are.

    Also, reprocessing certainly isn’t dangerous due to the very dilute nature of the extractant (mainly nitric acid) and nether is rail transport of nuclear waste… watch this video!

  4. Ryan the Engineer

    They’re the result of botched jobs in the 40s and 50s where political pressure to develop the atom bomb was all consuming. Still a tragedy non-the-less.

  5. Pingback: Europe at Risk – Shut Dungeness B Now | Radiation Free Lakeland

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