DRIGG and Lakeland

PLease……write to CUmbria County Council before 15th July ….all the rotting shipping containers you see in this old picture are full of nuclear waste…now the industry wants to stack the containers higher and make more open concrete “vaults” of the type you can see in the image.

Letter sent today to Cumbria County Council’s Development Control Committee – the more letters they get the better.  We will be making further points on why the Gate Should Be Locked on Drigg and delivering the petition on the 15th July in Kendal.

Letters and Objections can be sent here

7th July 2016
Dear Development Control Committee

PL\1508\05 (4/15/9012)

Low Level Waste Repository Ltd, Shore Road, Drigg, Holmrook, CA19 1XH

The phased construction of additional vaults (10 and 11 and an
extension to Vault 9 (9a)); the disposal of low level radioactive wastes in the new vaults and
in the existing Vault 9 including higher stacking of waste containers in Vault 9; the
permanent retention (disposal) of waste containers by means of higher stacking in the existing Vault 8; and the
phased construction of a permanent capping layer over trenches 1-7 and Vaults 8-11;
together with other ancillary works.
On 15th July you will be taking the decision whether or not to allow the
Drigg site to stack shipping containers of nuclear waste higher, extend
vault 9, and add new vaults


There is a pragmatic argument for allowing Drigg to continue stuffing
shipping containers full of nuclear waste into concrete “vaults”
In 2008 the law was very quietly changed to accommodate the nuclear
industry’s growing waste problem so that Very Low Level Waste could be
deregulated for “free release” to novel routes including landfills,
smelting, other technologies and recycling and re use of materials.
Drigg is key to this. It is decided by the operators of Drigg LLWR what
gets dumped where and how.
The pragmatic argument goes that if Drigg is not allowed to receive
nuclear wastes “until well into the next century” then ever more nuclear
waste would, following the 2008 deregulation, be diverted from Drigg to
landfill, to incineration, to “recycling.” Drigg is “saved” for the top
end of “low level.” Keeping Drigg open for the nastier stuff and the new
routes for the “Very Low Level “ is also crucial to new build.


The northwest corner of the Drigg site is according to the OS map a mere
300m from the high tide mark. This same corner is less than 20m above
sea level. Most of the site is under the 20m level. Some of it under 10m
at the South West corner where it links to the tidal river Irt

The land between the sea and the site is dunes and heath. Walking along
the shore you can see that the erosion is active and dramatic. The
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s 2015 document, Coastal Erosion
Summary, outlines the scenario for Containers to be “rapidly transported
away, or persist on the beach to create a feature analogous to Barn Scar.”
The document goes on to say : “Based on qualitative evidence and
quantitative modelling studies, it has been concluded that the disposal
vaults will begin to be eroded on a timescale of a few hundred to a few
thousand years. It is not possible to clearly identify a ‘best estimate’
value for the time of future site disruption within this range”. We
would suggest that the modelling is highly deceptive and that
erosion/inundation would not only result from the sea but also from water
courses adjacent to and running through the site.


Equally deceptive is the label “low level.”
The University of Reading has pointed out:
“The Drigg site uses two disposal systems:An original system
operated from 1959 (?) to 1988 comprising a series of parallel trenches
excavated into glacial clays, back filled with LLW and covered with an
interim water resistant cap. Current disposal of compacted waste
placed in steel ISO-freight containers, with void space filled with highly
fluid cement based grout. These containers are then disposed of in a
series of open concrete vaults.
“Radionuclides with highest activities in the inventory include 3H, 241Pu,
137Cs, 234U and 90Sr, 238U and 232Th.”


This represents a radioactive cocktail of tritium, caesium, strontium and
plutonium with half lives measured in years and decades, with daughters
such as americium 241 that’s dangerous for centuries, mixed in with
uranium and thorium isotopes with half lives as long as 14 billion years.
The waste is compacted into steel shipping containers filled with cement.
But the containers already stacked up high on the site, are already
suffering from serious degradation, with widespread cracking and
corrosion, as the LLW management wrote in 2013:
“in containers at the tops of stacks, the external capping grout has
undergone extensive physical degradation and settlement; the lids are not
full of grout, and the grout is generally heavily cracked. The state of
the capping grout in underlying layers is better; most containers only
show sparse cracking. Standing water, sometimes contaminated with low
levels of radioactivity, is present in approximately half of the
containers at the tops of stacks … Corrosion, sometimes fully
penetrating, is present in some container lids at the tops of stacks …”


Radiation Free Lakeland have asked the following questions of the
Environment Agency under Freedom of Information:
1. Are independent assessors monitoring the gaseous and liquid emissions
from the Drigg site on a daily basis?

”The monitoring programme undertaken by the operator is not assessed by
check monitoring on a daily basis. However, checks of aqueous discharges
are carried out periodically. Gaseous discharges are not independently
monitored as both the current and historical data has shown them to be
very low The operator submits to us, for our independent assessment, an
report covering their monitoring programme.”

2. Does the Environment Agency use documentation from the industry for

EA “Yes, the Environment Agency does use documentation from the industry
for monitoring. The environmental permit for the LLWR near Drigg requires
the ;permit holder (LLW Repository Ltd) to develop and implement
comprehensiveenvironmental monitoring..”

3. Are Energy Solutions and other companies involved in nuclear
decommissioning and reprocessing also involved in running the Drigg site?
And does the Environment Agency see this this as a conflict of interest?

EA “The Site License Company, LLW Repository Ltd, which operates the LLWR,
is managed on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) by UK
Nuclear Waste Management Ltd. …and is a consortium led by URS, Studsvik
UK, and Areva. The Environment Agency does not see this as a conflict of
interest as the site operator is required to comply with the
condition of the permit whosoever that operator may be.”


These answers by the Environment Agency indicate that the nuclear industry
is out of control. The same companies running the Drigg site are those
who are taking decisions as to what to dump where. We note that the
“recycling” metal plant at Studsvik, Workington has been taken over by
EDF. Studsvik are one of the companies running Drigg. EDF have 9
reactors in France to be decommissioned – will the tonnes of radioactive
metal from “recycling” these French reactors end up in Drigg?


In 2005 the Environment Agency revealed that estimated doses and risks to
critical groups both from current Drigg operations and from post closure
ALREADY significantly exceed the legal dose constraint. Authorising
continued use of a site knowing that people could be exposed to radiation
doses of 30milliSieverts (mSv) in the future – when the legal maximum now
is 1mSv per person places greater burden on future generations than that
experienced by the current generation – the generation which has created
the waste.


Radiation Free Lakeland have previously called for a moratorium on the
dumping of nuclear wastes into the environment. We ask that the
Development and Regulatory Control Committee will at the very least
question the continued arrival of nuclear waste at Drigg, and work instead
to secure the existing wastes as interim 200 year storage rather than
disposal. Stacking already degraded shipping containers ever higher and
then topping off with top soil on what is essentially sand dunes and heath
is a crime that would inevitably impact on Cumbrians and on our European
neighbours sooner or later.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby
On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

New build and continued reprocessing would of course lead to a further
tsunami of nuclear wastes requiring many more Driggs.
Coastal Erosion Summary LLWR/NDA 2015

Results of an aqueous source term model for a radiological risk assessment
of the Drigg LLW Site, UK. University of Readling

Vault 8 Container Issues LLW Repository July 2013

Freedom of Information Requests

Comments on Environment Agency’s Assessment Documents on Drigg

2 thoughts on “LOCK THE GATE ON DRIGG NOW!

  1. Pingback: Lock the Gate on Drigg Nuclear Waste Dump on the Irish Sea Now! Comment Deadline July 15th – ronaldwederfoort

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