Whether or not nuclear waste is ultimately disposed of deep underground within the UK, there is an urgent need for secure storage for at least the next 100-150 years. Some of the higher activity wastes continue to generate too much heat to be buried. The government’s own committee set up to guide their policy told them this. International experience reinforces this, and yet so far this has remained on the government’s back burner. Cumbria Trust will seek to ensure that Secure Interim Storage becomes the urgent priority which it deserves to be.
Cumbria Trust would support the development of near surface secure storage of High Level Waste at the Sellafield site. We recognise and value the expertise and decades of experience in decommissioning, packaging and storage that the Sellafield staff have. We also recognise the unsuitability and poor condition of the current storage arrangements, which place the Sellafield staff and the wider population in danger. This was highlighted recently by the National Audit Office who described Sellafield’s current storage as an ‘intolerable risk’.
We see no conflict in Cumbria Trust opposing permanent burial in Cumbrian geology, which has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt to be unsuitable by decades of investigation, while supporting near-surface storage facilities which can be engineered to last for 150 years or more. This interim storage would be constantly monitored to ensure continued isolation from the environment.
In addition to vastly improving safety at Sellafield, this would also ensure that jobs are created and retained for existing Sellafield staff, who are best placed to operate this.
Here is an excellent example of international best practice from Sweden: