Full report published on Cumbria nuclear waste burial and local involvement
Findings of three-year review by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership are now in print and online
The complicated and contentious issue of burying nuclear waste in Cumbria is heading for a milestone on 11 October when the three local councils which have expressed an interest meet to debate further involvement.
A useful waymarker has now been published in full, based on the views of some 2,300 people and organisations whose submissions, while often very different and sometimes in direct conflict, have led to changes and hesitations, albeit not altering the general approach of cautiously making headway.
The document was summarised on 19 July and you can read a precis of that here. The full report has now gone up online and that is available here. It is the work of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership which is made up of the councils – Cumbria county and Allerdale and Copeland districts – and other groups including the National Farmers Union, the Lake District national park authority and representatives of all the parish councils potentially involved.
Not surprisingly for someone whose colleagues have spent three years on the review, the chair of the partnership Coun Elaine Woodburn, Labour leader of Copeland since 2003, asks people to spend time reading and thinking about the full report. Events are also likely to move at a pace appropriate to a project which has a timeline so lengthy that all manner of unexpected developments could have an effect; the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which is overseeing research into the pros and cons of burial, spoke last year of high level waste and spent fuels being buried 1000 metres deep from 2075 and spent fuel from as yet unbuilt nuclear reactors from 2130.
The dates have crept nearer, however, with the possibility of intermediate level waste going underground in metal containers in 2040 and, last month, a suggestion in leaked correspondence that the current government would like to press on faster than its Labour predecessor, which first raised the proposal, and see if intermediate disposal could start in 2029.
The West Cumbria partnership report covers seven main themes and finds common ground between participants on the over-riding importance of more detailed geological research, the right of councils to withdraw right up to the point where work would start and a substantial package of community benefits if burial goes ahead. In simple terms, the long-standing debate in the area over balancing the risks of nuclear power with its economic benefits continues over this latest issue.
More than a third of employed people in Copeland and ten percent of those in Allerdale work at Sellafield nuclear power complex.
There is a mass of opinion and information already online, including an Ipsos Mori poll in May which found 53 percent of local people in favour of continuing geological research and 33 percent against, and the website of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. The new report has few surprises for those already involved but is handy and accessible as a guide to the issue and how things stand.
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