The Nuclear Free Local Authorities have today published a report on the UK’s plutonium policy amid new concerns over plutonium remobilisation in the Irish Sea. This combines two excellent reports from NFLA Policy Advisor Pete Roche which can be seen on the informative website https://www.No2nuclearpower.org.uk.
Part A Plutonium Policy Update
Extract: “When reprocessing ends in 2021 there will be around 140 tonnes of separated civil plutonium stored at Sellafield. About 23 tonnes of this is foreign-owned, largely but not exclusively by Japanese utilities, and is managed under long-term contracts. (4) The UK’s stockpile of plutonium has been consolidated at Sellafield by transporting material at the former fast reactor site at Dounreay in Caithness down to Cumbria. The NDA says it has been working with the UK government to determine the right approach for putting this nuclear material beyond reach. (5) The options it is considering are all predicated on the development of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) – a subsidiary of the NDA – is assuming that a GDF will be available to receive its first waste in the late 2040s. Then it will take around 90 years to emplace all existing waste before it can begin emplacing other materials such as immobilised plutonium or spent plutonium fuel. And there are no guarantees this timetable will be achieved. In Sweden, for example, which is perhaps one of the countries most advanced in its development of an underground repository, nuclear utilities have warned reactors may have to close early because of delays in the approval of the repository. (6)”
Full Report Here
Part B Plutonium Remobilisation in the Irish Sea
…” bioturbation – the reworking of soils and sediments by animals or plants – at the Cumbrian Mudpatch will continue to act as a source of “historic” Sellafield derived radioactivity to the UK Coastal Environment. If this redistribution of historical discharges of radionuclides is happening by natural processes, it can be assumed that the problem could become much more serious as a result of human mining activities under the seabed. A recent report by Marine Consultant, Tim Deere-Jones concludes that: “It is evident that any subsidence within the WCM designated seabed mining zone will generate some form and degree of seabed morphological distortion. It is equally evident that any such seabed distortion will remobilise previously sequestered seabed sediments, and their associated pollutants, which will subsequently be transported and re-distributed through the regional marine and coastal environments. It is inevitable that such re-mobilisation and redistribution will expose marine wildlife and human coastal populations and stakeholders to some degree of exposure doses to those pollutants via a number of mechanisms and pathways.”
Read Full Report Here
As can be seen referenced is Radiation Free Lakeland’s own briefing for Cumbria County Councillors written by marine pollution expert Tim Deere-Jones as part of our Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign.
Radiological impact of the proposed coal mine alongside the proposed deep nuclear dump is routinely ignored by the press and mainstream NGOs so this is a step towards exposure of an issue which should be headline news.
Not referenced in this briefing is the appointment of the coal boss Mark Kirkbride to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. This appointment should be raising questions of cronyism at its most blatant and dangerous. On the one hand Mark Kirkbride is appointed to advise government on the disposal of the most dangerous wastes known to man and on the other his coal mine is “expected to cause subsidence” releasing radioactive particles from the Sellafield Mud Patch (the area on the Irish Sea bed where radioactive wastes have settled into the silts)