Blow to Britain’s nuclear waste plans

PTI | | Updated on: Jan 31, 2013

Britain’s plans to boost its use of nuclear energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions took a hit on yesterday when the only region interested in hosting an underground waste dump pulled out.

The local authority in Cumbria, an area of northern England home to the scenic Lake District and the Sellafield nuclear plant, had expressed an interest in hosting a $19 billion geological disposal site.

But at a meeting yesterday, leaders of Cumbria County Council voted against proceeding with studies into the potential dump, ending its four-year involvement in the process.

Council leader Eddie Martin said, “While Sellafield and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as the place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said the decision was “disappointing” but that he would respect local concerns.

He said he believed a successful site would be found for the nuclear waste, even though Cumbria was the only location in contention, after Shepway council in Kent, near London, voted to end its involvement in the process in September.

“It is however absolutely vital that we get to grips with our national nuclear legacy. The issue has been kicked into the long grass for far too long,” he said in a statement.

The government is seeking a permanent home for nuclear waste currently stored in temporary surface facilities around the country, as well as for waste from a planned new generation of nuclear power stations.

Geological disposal involves isolating radioactive waste within engineered facilities up to 1,000 metres deep inside a suitable rock formation, to ensure that no harmful quantities of radioactivity ever reach the surface.

Britain has placed nuclear power at the heart of its low carbon energy mix and its current plants, home to 17 reactors in total, provide about 20 per cent of the country’s energy.

Published on January 31, 2013
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you