PH: From reading the consultation documents that were produced, it seems as though
there’s a very strong emphasis on fringe benefits and job creation and all of these nebulous terms that sound positive.
DS: Yes, these are all bribes – and the 2008 white paper about MRWS (which musn’t be confused with the earlier one called the same thing) specifically sets out the criteria, and taking recommendations from CoRWM, by which time it had produced its final report, it ignored some key features of the CoRWM recommendations. For example, that CoRWM only recommended geological disposal for existing nuclear waste, which had to be defined in advance – the volumes and the types of waste. And that CoRWM was not giving a green light to new build. And of course a reason for the 2008 white paper was that Blair had decided by 2006 that he wanted new build for Britain, and that one of the things that had to be done and dusted was a place to put the wastes arising both from the new build and to solve the problem of the legacy – the pre-existing – wastes. So that’s why they came out with the 2008 white paper. But they ignored a lot of the CoRWM recommendations, and they called for volunteers, knowing full well that Copeland and Allerdale would volunteer. There is good evidence – which I don’t have to hand, but other people have discussed it – that Copeland and Allerdale were so in on the process… meetings held at a hotel in West Cumbria in January 2008, but the minutes are not available – they were never minuted – you know, open lies like this. There is no doubt that Copeland and Allerdale were closely involved in setting up this white paper, and they could promise in advance that they would volunteer. So even if no-one else in the country volunteered then the government thought they were on to a good thing: “yeah, we know we’ve got Copeland back on board again, and we just have to find a site somewhere near Sellafield, within the borough of Copeland or maybe Allerdale.” That was their plan by 2008. So that’s why all the emphasis is on voluntarism, no mention of geology. The stages of the MRWS process were set out firstly with a so-called ‘high-level geological screening process’. The high level screening was cutting out no more than 10 or 20% of the land area in the two boroughs, which would be unsuitable because of the natural resources such as coal, coal-bed methane, oil, or water. But the report – this BGS report – was itself heavily doctored at the insistence of the NDA, who comissioned it, so that consideration of the most important natural resource of all –which is drinking water – was to be postponed to a later stage. The reason they did that was if they had ruled out all the areas where there were aquafers then nothing of Copeland and Allerdale would be left. Ergo none of the area is suitable, just on the grounds of natural resource danger. Quite apart from the unsuitability of the geology. But the high level report – the so-called screening report – was also misused by people like the second CoRWM committee that was set up in 2008. This was a new bunch of guys. They even tried to suggest that the BGS screening report was indeed a proper review of the geology of West Cumbria, and that areas that had passed the screening test were, in principle, suitable. Now this is a complete lie. The screening out of minerals, and resources like water, has nothing to do with the suitability or otherwise of a volume of rock for waste disposal. So this was another piece of sleight of hand by this West Cumbria MRWS process. So along came some people – particularly myself and also Professor Haszeldine from Edinburgh – and we gave all these lectures and really got some of the council members thinking about it, that really after all maybe the geology is unsuitable. And at the end of the day, Cumbria County Council, under the guidance of – I think its very wise leader, Eddie Martin – he came to our lectures, he came and he listened, the latter part of last year, November/December. He and his council decided, both on the grounds of the lack of democracy in the process, and of the inadequate geology, they decided to pull out of the process. Now, I suppose you know that for the process to have gone forward, the government had to have the county council and at least one of the county councils in play. So the fact that CCC pulled out scuppered the whole process. And there is no question that what the government is now trying to do is it is talking to the two borough councils alone, and they may try and rewrite the rules of the MRWS process, by for example turning Copeland and Allerdale into a unitary.
So what the government is refusing to face up to even after January the 30th is the fact that the geology is unsuitable – they are not addressing it. Stuart and I know we’re on to a winner because at no point have they challenged our views; they have just ignored them or tried to ignore them. If we were talking shite, no doubt by now they would have comissioned the BGS or some other independent geologists to shoot us down, you know they would have done that. But the fact that they have not succeeded in doing so means in effect that they daren’t even try, because they know they will lose that battle.
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