Cumbria Trust was pleased to read that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is planning to return reprocessed nuclear waste from Sellafield in vitrified form to Germany – its country of origin. While it is right that the UK deals with its own legacy nuclear waste, the NDA should not turn the UK and more specifically Cumbria into the world’s nuclear waste dump.
As we recently reported the NDA has offered to take ownership of around 19 tonnes of Japanese plutonium in exchange for a substantial payment from Japan, having previously assured residents of Cumbria that the UK would only look after its own nuclear waste. The NDA appears to be using a sleight of hand on this issue to avoid breaking their word – the plutonium is not currently defined as nuclear waste, but it is common knowledge that it is likely to be reclassified as such. The very fact that Japan is willing to pay the UK to take ownership of the plutonium is a clear indication that it is considered to have a negative value, and hence be a form of waste.
Ultimately the UK’s nuclear waste inventory is expected to be buried in a geological disposal facility (GDF) deep underground, so we all have an interest in ensuring that the UK repatriates nuclear waste from other countries before that happens.