Today in Kendal without any fanfare or any media fuss Lillyhall Landfill was given the go ahead to dump High Volumes of so called Very Low Level wastes – this will increase with more devious permissions by the Environment Agency to Low Level waste – Intermediate Waste and no doubt ultimately a Radioactive Waste Incinerator without so much as a by your leave to councillors or the public.
Councillors say the decision is “out of their hands” as the Environment Agency has already given Lillyhall a permit to dump “exempt” and High Volume Very Low Level radioactive wastes- not quite true the Council could have and SHOULD HAVE refused an extension to the life of this landfill. The council could engage the services of a more ethical operator who does not take lucrative government contracts to dump radioactive wastes alongside household waste. The option to refuse the extension to the permit was not even discussed.
One thing is for sure – the Environment Agency are supposed to be an autonomous environmental watchdog looking after the public’s health and well being. In practise they look like an increasingly wheedling poodle-like tool of government who will carry on giving ever nastier permits UNLESS the Gate is Locked on the dispersal of nuclear wastes to the environment.
The following is taken from handwritten notes during the meeting – any mistakes are mine.
FIELD NOTES FROM LILLYHALL LANDFILL MEETING 26th Feb
Alan Clark – Chair: This committee is concerned with the extension to the life of the landfill and not concerned with nuclear waste
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland: (Delivery of 153 letters – more delivered separately)
The good news is that Cumbrians have done well at reducing, reusing and recycling their waste, so much so that there is a large spare capacity at Lillyhall landfill. The bad news is that the nuclear industry want to fill that spare capacity with radioactive waste. We understand that councillors feel as though they are powerless and that decisions are taken away from them in this matter as the Environment Agency has already granted a permit to Lillyhall to accept High Volumes of Low Level Radioactive wastes. The European Union is already calling Lillyhall a Radioactive Waste Repository with planned routine releases of radiation to groundwaters – well that is news to most people in Cumbria. The Council have advised setting a limit on the waste at 200bq a gm – This is not good enough – this is the amount there is an admitted adverse risk to health (EA Kingscliffe evidence). Councillors have a voice and they should use it – they have the wherewithal whether or not to extend the permits for this landfill – or whether to bring in new operators who will guarantee not to dump radioactive waste. Lock the Gate on nuclear waste in landfill
Irene Sanderson – Cumbrian: To bury toxic material in a hole in the ground is a technique with a rather poor record (think of Dounreay) It should not be a first choice or even a choice at all. In particular, the danger presented by any low level radioactive waste remains controversial. Some experts dismiss it as almost negligible others consider it to be significant. Certainly the standards for exposure to radioactivity have become stricter over the last decades, which would seem to indicate that at some time in the future it will become unthinkable to dispose of radioactive materials in this way (Irish Sea). Location of the site 1.6 miles from Distington Community School and Beckstone Primary School and St Mary’s Catholic School is far from ideal -why should this site be chosen. It seems to me that the answer to this question is a mixture of convenience (site already exists and is closish to Sellafield) and political feasibility (that is, there is more political support of the nuclear industry than in other areas) Neither of these reasons is adequate. More worringly if the hurdle of local opposition can be overcome more toxic material will be on the way “it is proposed to allow an increase in the volume of material to be limited to 200bq a gram until the permit is amended by the Environment Agency…” ” The applicant proposal would include the disposal of wastes up to 400bq/g i.e. that which falls within the lower end of Higher Activity Low Level Waste…” So in summary, wrong disposal technique, wrong site, wrong reasons and a worrying future.
David Penney Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND ( Irene spoke): Our main objection is based on the fact that sustained exposure to any level of radioactive waste is potentially dangerous and highly damaging to human health and the environment. Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011) demonstrate the long term impact of radiation and indicate that there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation over a sustained period.
Harry Doloughan – West Cumbrian: I am totally against any grade of contaminated nuclear waste being buried anywhere, other than the appropriate tip at Drigg which has many years of space left. Also more land available in Drigg area. If anything of value is spotted going into this unsafe tip there is a good chance it will come out again. The word of the nuclear industry cannot be trusted this has been proved time and again. We already have contaminated nuclear waste coming to the Studsvik plant in the same area. Stop now before the whole area is contaminated
Alison Denwood – Harrington resident: (Delivered 130 letters collected in an hour or so in Workington) In Harrington people DO NOT want this. Groundwater from Distington Beck flows right under our houses – will it be contaminated? There is no faith in the industry. Lillyhall is on a high site and the water flows down – the waste is to be dumped in tipper trucks and how will it be monitored? The seagulls from the landfill site fly over our houses, our gardens our cars, will their poo be contaminated? Children and dogs play in Distington Beck in the summer – what about their health and safety? There is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation – no guarantees to future generations. a friend who worked at Sellafield as an industrial painter died in his twenties…People are put at risk when money is the bottom line. The Council’s environmental policy says that it will enhance and maintain quality of life and the environment.
OPERATORS – Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas FCC
Manager: We have 35 staff on site. There is a Liquid Treatment Plant, Recycling and Transport of wastes for customers. We have environmental permits – and a DW number for every consignment. There is a lot of documentation and checks to comply with our permitting. Every 5 vehicles is sampled. Proceedures have to be followed. We have discharge consents from United Utilities and the Environment Agency.
The existing planning permission and permit is closely regulated by the Environment Agency and we are one of the top companies in the UK. There is a big change in the way the county deals with waste. We cannot leave the landfill half finished we need to drain and restore it.
John McCreesh: the Chairs opening remarks are helpful, the comments made by protestors are based on the original document and not the one we have in front of us. As far as we are aware no Very Low Level Waste has been accepted. Our site visit showed this is a big hole in the ground… need to ensure the site is restored. No protest from local residents ( I think this is what he said ).
Anthony Markley: Has problems with tipping nuclear waste – people do not want nuclear waste in landfill. Nuclear waste should stay on the sites of production. Lillyhall is not a nuclear licensed site – this will open the door to nuclear waste in Lillyhall.
CHAIR Alan Clark: To remind you this is NOT about nuclear waste it is about an extension to the life of Lillyhall landfill.
Anthony Markley: I will not put my name to a nuclear site at Lillyhall.
Gerald Humes: There has to be a facility for nuclear waste. When Keekle Head was turned down people were overjoyed – can officers tell me what would have happened should Keekle Head have been accepted
OFFICER: There is a need to satisfy need for nuclear waste disposal. Had Keekle Head started there would be increased capacity. There is an element of low level waste that cannot be accommodated anywhere else in the county.
Gerald Humes: We are being asked to extend the life time of Lillyhall with the caveat that higher level waste will be disposed of at this site. This would be a stigma on our communities. The people thought Keekle Head had given some respite now it has come back to haunt us. Drigg is the place to build this. I am for nuclear but this is an inappropriate site this application should be deferred until we get an idea of what intentions are for this site.
Willlie Whalen: We are told we should not preempt decisions but we are also told there is to be a consultation on High Volume Very Low Level Wastes going into landfill. Then we are told we need to make a decision today. This puts us in a difficult place.
CHAIR, Alan Clark: This is not about nuclear and if we said no and it goes to the Inspector we would lose as in Kingscliffe..
Gerald Humes: The system is putting us in a difficult situation…
CHAIR. Alan Clark: The application needs to be judged as it is which is nothing to do with nuclear but an extension of the permit
Joe Holliday: You’ve said the application is nothing to do with nuclear but if part of this permit extends to the permission to put very low level wastes into landfill then it does apply to nuclear. If we give permission we are allowing an extension of time after 2014 we are extending for low level waste permits. If we extend the life of the landfill it affects nuclear.
Roger Bingham: People are concerned about this. I am concerned about extending the life of the site even without nuclear. This is a blighted site and it needs restoration I am not in favour of this application.
Hilary Carrick: This decision falls between two systems of regulation and this committee has planning constraints. I have concerns as this site is going more and more towards nuclear. It strikes me that if this is granted this permit for Very Low Level Waste disposal will run into bigger concerns with potential increased applications – that is not within the remit of this planning committee. What are the health implications?
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: Lillyhall is in accordance with govnt policy of 2007. Guidance is in line with international guidelines. Dose targets are dependant on guidance designed to be precautionary in nature.
Alan Toole: You cannot say it is not linked to nuclear – what about monitoring problems with the Environment Agency overstretched and lack of staffing – what sort of monitoring would happen?
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: We would ensure regular monitoring by enforcement action. The operators would send us documentation on a quarterly basis and the Envrionment Agency would monitor groundwater at the moment there is no monitoring because the site does not accept High Volume Low Level Wastes.
Bert Richardson: The cart is being put before the horse. No issue with the extension of the landfill but there is Very Low Level in the first section of the document and then it goes on to Low Level. Are we playing Russian Roulette? I am not prepared to put peoples future at risk.
OFFICER: The reason it goes on to Low Level is that the document is taking account of the variations of the permitting. There are two permitting regimes tied to each other.
John McCreesh: There should be a condition on the volumes of HVVLLW
Frank Irving Morgan: Sellafield has its own facilities on site for Very Low and Low Level wastes why not utilise this? Also can any level of membrane as at Lillyhall contain the kind of solid wastes proposed for Lillyhall?
OFFICER: Asbestos cannot be buried on the Sellafield site it is currently going to Drigg or elsewhere in the country (!!!)
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: the majority of waste will be in drums or bags for managing this the operator has prime responsibility with mountains of data sent to the EA on a quarterly basis. ( WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?)
Frank Irving Morgan: The Environment Agency are inhibited in doing a profession job by financial constraints. The VLLW has previously been accommodated at Drigg where else does it go?
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: Drigg, Kingscliffe and Clifton Marsh for Springfields and Capenhurst – the limit for all is 200bq g
Frank Irving Morgan: I feel for the operators, we are presented with a premature application – can they come back with a permit fully approved re nuclear and exactly what the proposal is – as there is extreme concern that this is like signing a blank cheque.
CHAIR, Alan Clark: I think the operators want a decision today (!!!!)
Tony Markley: I do not want to see any more nuclear waste coming to the site – we need to propose that there is no problem with an extension but not for nuclear waste
Gerald Humes: we need more information before making this decision
OFFICER: The lawyers have told us that we cannot restrict the levels of waste going to this site because the permit has been given by the Environment Agency
The meeting then descended into farce with an amendment proposed that the site should “only” receive HVVLLW – there was confusion as to who was voting for what with members who had vehemently opposed nuclear waste going into landfill seemingly putting their hands up to support it.
The operators were sat behind the protestors and they weren’t half chuffed at the result!
The council had the opportunity to say no to the extension to the permit, they could have employed new operators who are not taking the governments nuclear £ to disperse radioactive cack to the environment
Now the floodgates will open to dump ever increasing radioactive (and chemical) releases to our groundwaters unless ………..