IMPLEMENTING GEOLOGICAL DISPOSAL
Cumbria Trust, the non-governmental organisation which is committed to opposing a geological disposal facility in Cumbria on geological and safety grounds has issued the following statement with regard to the new White paper published last week.
Cumbria Trust is disappointed, but not surprised, that the Government is proceeding with the “gerrymandering” it had threatened following Cumbria County Council’s decision to withdraw from the last process.
Eddie Martin, Chair of Cumbria Trust, and former leader of Cumbria County Council which took the decision stated:
“The new policy is clearly aimed at preventing such an “inconvenient” democratic decision affecting the process again, yet still claims to be based on voluntarism.
The “incentives” being offered are a transparent attempt to divide and conquer communities such as Cumbria. It won’t work.”
Cumbria Trust believes that the process should be sufficiently robust and safe so as not to require what it regards as “bribes” to parts of communities.
Cumbria Trust notes the new White Paper clarifies that the proposed geological disposal facility is for DISPOSAL not storage and that the waste will not be retrievable. It must therefore be in safe geology bearing in mind no engineered barriers will last 100,000 years and that geology is the final barrier to contain the leaks which will occur.
The Country’s New Build Waste
The White Paper clarifies beyond doubt that the Government views the facility as being for ALL the country’s nuclear waste including new waste from nuclear new builds taking place all over the country.
This emphasises that this is a national issue not a Cumbrian one.
Roger Parker, Cumbria Trust Director, said:
“We note that the Government has failed to define what a community will be for these purposes and in time honoured fashion is setting up a committee to decide! We expect representation on that committee given our knowledge and experiences in Cumbria.”
Colin Wales, Cumbria Trust Director comments:
“Our position is that our community is Cumbria. Also, that no part of Cumbria can be allowed to take a decision which would so obviously affect the whole county without county wide approval. “
Geoff Betsworth, a Cumbria Trust Director added:
“The only good news is a belated and long overdue acknowledgment by Government that an assessment of national geology is relevant to the process and also that international guidelines will be followed. As the latter broadly require simple geology and low relief we think it is highly unlikely indeed that the most geologically complex part of England and its most mountainous area would be anywhere near the top of any such list.”
John Wilson another Director adds:
“NIREX had previously identified 30% of the UK as having potentially suitable geology most in the South East of the UK. The latter includes the type of clay geology chosen by France which is proceeding in “Oxford clay”. Clay was chosen by France due to its natural sealing and elastic (non-fracturing) properties. France has many other types of geology but chose this as most suitable.
Countries without this option such as Sweden and Finland have been forced into hard rock as they have no clay or salt geology. We have both.”
Mike McKinley, Cumbria Trust Director and Chair of the Lake District National Park added:
“We note the Government continues to airbrush from history, and fail to learn from, the £400m NIREX process which had irrationally (according to the planning inspector’s decision) selected a site near Sellafield. This failed due to the complex geology and hydrogeology.”
National Park and Environmentally Sensitive Sites
“We also note that, unlike with fracking and the previous NIREX search, the Government has missed the opportunity to exclude National Parks and environmentally sensitive areas from the process.”
Eddie Martin concludes:
“Cumbria Trust remains committed to the safe decommissioning of the Sellafield site and to better and safer interim storage, possibly underground but near surface storage.
We remain of the view that the “intolerable risk” identified by the Parliamentary Account Committee and the concerns also highlighted by the National Audit Office must be addressed. Also that more of the Sellafield pound is spent in Cumbria as we believe over £1 billion per annum of Sellafield expenditure is currently being spent outside Cumbria.”
Cumbria Trust believes this is simply unacceptable; as is the poverty and deprivation of parts of West Cumbria sitting “cheek by jowl” with this billion pound industry.