Today Five Years Ago – The Dump Was Ditched!

On this day in Carlisle Cumbria County Council voted NO to the proposed Geological ‘Disposal’ Facility for intermediate and high level nuclear wastes.

Government however is desperate to be seen to have a “final plan” for nuclear wastes. This is so that they can make more, ever hotter,  with dangerous new fuel burnt in new nuclear reactors.  So like Terminator they are back.  This time they have changed the law to exclude the voices of those pesky people who may not want to have heat generating nuclear wastes percolating up between their toes – or their children’s toes – or their children’s children’s toes.

Our good friends and colleagues over at Toxic Coast have written the following and we think it is a brilliant expose of the desperate mafia like corruption at the heart of the government’s nuclear ambitions…….

Mountains into Molehills and Copeland’s Emmental Aims

In what can only be described as bribery and an attempt to circumvent democracy, the government has proposed giving £42 million to any community that will volunteer to consider hosting the nuclear waste dump. This is, allegedly, without strings. All one has to do is to ‘express an interest’. Should one wish to discontinue the process at any stage the £42 million will still be paid. Some are cynical about this proposed right of withdrawal; a view which we wholeheartedly support, but then we have a jaundiced view of those with vested interests and politicians – not always the same thing – alike.

The suggestion specifically targets the Copeland area near Sellafield. Superficially, of course, it is the logical place to make the hole and bury the toxic garbage in but, with more thought, perhaps not the best solution for the long-term. Currently, plans are being drawn up to limit the number of residents and groups who are likely to object. The last time they weren’t clever enough to exclude the detractors, which resulted in vastly over-whelming numbers voting against the dump. Primarily, the aim is to fudge the whole thing, limiting the powers of those who have already expressed antagonism to the dump, including almost all the parish councils and Cumbria County Council. The way things are going, our light-hearted suggestion of a couple of years back – that the only views that will be accepted are those gleaned from Sellafield’s canteen – will become a reality.

Was the Nirex Inquiry just a dummy run? It is difficult to believe that rock structures demonstrated to be unsuitable for the dump can have changed sufficiently in the last 20 years to permit safe dumping.

Local Volunteerism is the key, according to ex-PM Cameron. Yet experience of the biased and cleverly-constructed consultation questions preclude any faith in the fairness of any proposed scheme to ask those directly involved. The pro-nuclear Copeland council ostensibly aims to encourage residents to take pride in the borough and work towards making Copeland a better place to live, work and visit, presumably by permitting these toxic industries to take precedence, thus putting an end to tourism and irrevocably damaging the area’s amenity. The council will, of course, have a very heavy influence on all the proceedings, despite the obvious conflicts of interest.

Looking at the details of the “£42 million” bribe produces some amusing consequences, as, unsurprisingly, things are not as straightforward as the headline might suggest. For the first five years of involvement the community would be paid £1 million, eventually rising to £2.5 million for ten to fifteen years while the boreholes are drilled to ascertain whether the geology is suitable for such a site. The propaganda says that the money can be spent on “schemes that benefit the local economy, enhance the environment or improve community well-being”. Is that vague enough?

Maybe they should just give all Copeland residents a fair share, but that would only work out at £595 a head1. Would you honestly sell your environment, tolerate property devaluation and put your progeny at grave risk of radiation-related illnesses for £595? For that you are also expected to live on a building site for 15-20 years, even before they get round to doing the truly risky stuff of moving nuclear waste. Maybe Allerdale will want a cut, too, for their support of Sellafield, so we will have to share with another 94,300, which reduces the amount per head to just £254.

We are assured, of course, that the method proposed for dealing with the waste is perfectly safe – after all, the scientists tell us so. Despite the fact that nothing man-made has ever lasted intact for anything like 100,000 years. Promising the nefarious and meaningless “up to” figure of 2,000 jobs during construction (so, any figure you like between 0 and 2,000) is rather unsettling as there are

only 8802 people in Copeland – 5,355 in the whole of Cumbria (presumably due to seasonal fluctuations) – currently out of work. With other projects in the area, there is a potential shortfall of “up to” 23,500, which means we get back to the problem of “incomers” bringing their viruses and causing leukaemia and other strange afflictions normally associated with exposure to radioactive materials. To us uneducated people, it remains a puzzle why other major infra-structure projects don’t have the same problem, but that is another story.

Do you really want to sell your heritage for less than 58p per person per week?

If you want more fun, try breaking down the promised amount even further. Assuming that the project is completed within 20 years, allowing for the usual “over-runs”, each person would gain £30 per year, or 58 pence per week for all the inconvenience and risk. Assuming that inflation will probably continue running at around 3% per annum, at the end of the 20 year period, the effective price of disposing of Copeland will be even less. When politicians can charge £6,000 per day to pseudo-Chinese companies, using the contacts and influence they have gained over their years of (self) service this might seem like small beer. (Except it would only buy a pint per month.)

1 Based on 70,603 residents of Copeland as per the National Census, 2011.

2 Official figures from Copeland Job Centre.

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