In amongst the vast acres of NGO and press focus on climate/steel/jobs we managed to get the Inspector’s attention on seismicity near Sellafield. No mean feat considering the Secretary of State has not asked to be informed on seismic impacts or subsidence just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site, Sellafield and the low level nuclear waste dump at Drigg. No guesses as to why Government does not want to draw attention to induced earthquakes near Sellafield and would much prefer to take the climate flack. There was much talk of existential threat from climate change from the NGOs Friends of the Earth and South Lakeland Action on Climate Change’s summing up at the Planning Inquiry. Quite right – but the existential threat from induced earthquakes near Sellafield would result in a new nuclear sacrifice zone – imagine that – villages and towns in Cumbria literally wiped off the map for all eternity. Where is the outrage that we saw with fracking earthquakes? The earthquakes from coal mining are of a far greater magnitude.
The developers have set the earth vibration from the mine at 6mm/s peak particle velocity – that is very high. At 1mm/s peak particle velocity there willl be complaints from Kells/Whitehaven residents. The vibration limit is set very high – as high as if the mine were continuously blasting. In amongst the acres of detail on climate/stee/jobs and against the odds we managed to get the Inspectors attention on seismicity. The Inquiry Inspector agreed that the developers have set themselves a generous limit and it sounds as though we have achieved an amendment down – from 6mm/s peak particle velocity to 1mm/s peak particle velocity – that is still too much considering that the operations will not be stopped at seismic activity but an “investigation” will take place – not good enough. Should the Secretary of State say yes we need to still push for a traffic light system at least as stringent as fracking where operations are stopped at very low seismic activity.