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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Hundreds turn out to Maryport nuclear dump meeting

People in West Cumbria have 10 weeks to influence a key decision on whether the area should look to host an underground nuclear waste dump.

That was the message from Aspatria councillor Bill Finlay at a public meeting attended by more than 250 people on Wednesday.

The meeting at Maryport’s Wave Centre was organised by campaign group Solway Plain Against Nuclear Dump (Spand).

It heard from geologists Professor David Smythe and Professor Stuart Haszeldine about the potential consequences of building an underground repository.

Cumbria County, Allerdale and Copeland councils have spent four years considering the possibility and on January 30 are due to decide whether to investigate whether the area has suitable geology.

But the professors claimed that research for the Nirex inquiry in the 1990s had already ruled out the whole area.

Prof Haszeldine, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We know more about the underground geology of this part of the UK than any other part.”

Dr Jeremy Dearlove, a geologist employed by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, recently published documents which suggested that two rock types in West Cumbria could potentially be considered.

They are Eskdale and Ennerdale granite in Copeland and the Mercia Mudstone Group, found under the Solway Plain.

Prof Haszeldine said water running off Cumbria’s mountains and through fault lines meant that nuclear waste could not be stored below ground without risk of contamination.

Heat from radioactive waste would increase the number of cracks, he said.

He said there was no proven way of containing the waste in a sealed building which would not be compromised.

A 2010 map from the British Geological Survey (BGS) ruled out a quarter of West Cumbria as geologically unsuitable, but the professors warned that it did not mean areas not covered by the map were suitable.

A copy of the draft map, leaked to Prof Smythe from within the BGS, showed that initially the whole of north Allerdale was to be ruled out.

Once the final map was published, however, an area around Silloth and the Solway Plain had been removed from the confirmed unsuitable areas.

Prof Smythe said building a nuclear dump covering an area the size of Carlisle would create massive waste spoil with toxic chemicals which, when excavated, could seep into watercourses and the sea.

Both professors said large areas of eastern England were more geologically suitable than West Cumbria, with London providing the best rock type.

The three councils were due to decide whether to proceed to the next stage last month but paused the process.

They want more certainty from the Government on legal issues such as the area’s right to later withdraw from the process and the certainty of any community benefits available.

Spand chairman John Hayward, of Skinburness Road, Silloth, said the group was not against nuclear power or the principal of an underground repository.

Its concern was the possibility that a nuclear dump could be pushed through by the Government in an area where the geology would not be safe, leading to a blight on the landscape, community and tourism.

He urged people to write to county council cabinet members and district council executive members who will make their decision in January.

County council leader Eddie Martin was among those at the meeting.

Coun Finlay, who as an Independent Allerdale councillor has no say in the decision, urged objectors to inform councillors that they would not vote for anyone who supported staying in the dump project.

Referring to the 10 weeks until the decision, he added: “If a week’s a long time in politics, you’ve got an eternity to show your influence.”

Have your say

London is supposed to be the power house of England
If it has the best geological rock to contain nuclear waste it should be dumped there.
It is about time that the government took the responsibility for its Nuclear legacy the dump should go there.
All the infrastructure is there and the money too.
Let London have the waste the city uses vast amounts of power.
Who in their right minds would build a containment dump in an area that has had recent earthquakes.
Wake up people don't let them spoil and pollute one of England's most beautiful areas.
Unite and fight the the Nuclear blight

Posted by Michael Hill on 29 November 2012 at 22:33

I would welcome an underground storage facility its jobs for our child and childrens children and benefit the surrounding area through supply chain etc.
I would like to believe that we can engineer a facility that will be safe from contamination, maintain cooling and control. Would be something to be proud of I believe.

Posted by Peter on 29 November 2012 at 07:25

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