Land expert’s warning over nuclear waste
Last updated at 20:40, Thursday, 09 February 2012
About 100 people attended a lecture about why West Cumbria could be an unsuitable site for an underground nuclear waste repository.
New protest group Save Our Lake District – Don’t Dump Cumbria! invited Professor David Smythe, emeritus professor in geology, to talk about the area’s geology at Cockermouth School last Thursday.
The group is against proposals being investigated by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership for an underground store.
The talk was based on Prof Smythe’s research of West Cumbria, other sites abroad and the 1995 to 1996 planning inquiry on Sellafield site Longlands Farm.
Prof Smythe, who wrote a geological review of the area in 2011, told the meeting: “The Longlands site was ruled out a long time ago by the planning inspector and now it has been brought up again as a potential site, which could be a recipe for disaster.
“West Cumbria has complex geology made up of rocks such as limestone with fault lines, which could carry radioactive waste up to the surface.”
He said the closeness of mountains and fast unpredictable groundwater flow could also become a problem.
He added: “Once councils agree to participate in the search for a site then I’m afraid you will be locked into the process.
“Once they start drilling and doing surface research you are at a point of no return.
“There will also be a telephone poll vote at some stage of only 1,000 people where they will be asked if they oppose to an underground repository. This is not a time to sit on the fence if you strongly oppose.”
The partnership has been holding consultation sessions across Cumbria to gauge reaction.
The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, which involves a range of local organisations, was set up to help Allerdale council, Copeland council and Cumbria County Council to decide whether or not the area should take part in the Government’s search for a site.
It has spent more than two years looking at a range of issues, brought in independent experts and commissioned research.
But Save Our Lake District – Don’t Dump Cumbria! was set up after members attended partnership meetings.
Dr Ruth Balogh, a campaigner from the local Friends of the Earth group, has been instrumental in setting up the new group.
She said: “Now that the partnership is consulting about its proposals, there is an urgent need for people to understand what’s really going on here.
“We are sleepwalking into accepting something that’s never been tried before.
“This is not about managing waste safely, it’s about managing debate safely for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and for the Government, who needed to show that something was being done about nuclear waste when they decided on a new fleet of nuclear reactors, having sat on their hands for 60 years.”
The partnership said local councils had a right to withdraw from the process.
Councillor Tim Knowles, partnership chairman, said: “The partnership has considered a lot of information on geology, including material provided by Prof Smythe.
“We have concluded that Prof Smythe’s view that there is already enough information to say that the area is geologically unsuitable is not one that is generally accepted.
“Our initial view is that it will only be possible to find out if there is a suitable site for a repository if there are more detailed investigations, including boreholes, to test the rocks in the area.”
The consultation runs until March 23 and the full document is available at www. westcumbriamrws.org.uk or by emailing contact@west cumbriamrws.org.uk
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 09 February 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
My opinion on this is that the repository (not dump) can only be a positive thing for Cumbria. The nuclear industry in Cumbria already provides employment for many many people, not only directly but with many other local businesses being contracted to work as part of the nuclear industry.The underground storage facility can only be safer than the current arrangements, as most of the waste is currently on the Sellafield site stored above ground (according to: http://www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk/documents/251-Draft_Opinion_Survey_Questionnaire_for_Public_Comment_6_-_20_Feb_2012.pdf). And it can only be an advantage that we know the complexity of the geology of the area now so that the necessary arrangements can be made during the design and planning to ensure that the structure and secure storage remains integral for as long as may be required. The public should not be mollycoddled into thinking that they are hearing all the facts from these biased experts that they are listening to. There are many positives to this project as well as the negatives, but if these are managed correctly the repository should be seen as an asset to Cumbria, it's residents and the economy.
I attended the lecture and found it very bias and selective with some assumptions. One been long lands was no good, even though it was not even tested as the application for a rock characterisation lab was not even agreed. Even without that for smythe to say because of this all of west Cumbria is not suitable is disingenuous. Whatever this community decides is fine but at leaste allow us to make the decision with all the facts.
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