/ Lake District nuclear waste dump petition.

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Stuart William - on 29 Jan 2013
If anyone is interested here is a link to a petition protesting the pending decision as to whether or not to build a nuclear waste dump in the Lakes. This decision is to be put to local council tomorrow (I believe) and has been advised against by both scientists and environmental groups alike.
Apologies if this has already been posted.

EeeByGum - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to 2PointO: I thought the nuclear dump was already in the Lake District?

From the BBC website:

Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council and Allerdale Borough Council will decide whether to move to the next stage of a process that is still decades away from completion, even if approved.

They have sought further assurances from the government, including clarification on when, exactly, they could legally withdraw from the process should they want to.

"Stage 4" would involve undertaking vast geological investigations, properly testing theories for and against, and holding formal talks with the government over any "community benefits package.

Seems more than reasonable to me. It seem bonkers to me to say "No" before we have even found out if the positives and negatives are valid or not rather than relying on heresy and rhetoric.
Chateauneuf du Boeuf on 29 Jan 2013 - 188-221-69-0.zone12.bethere.co.uk
In reply to 2PointO: I'd put it in Witney, or somewhere rich anyway, make the
richest and biggest consumers pay for their reckless behaviour. Then offer to relocate disgruntled residents to an abandoned pebble dash home in Whitehaven , if the locals would have them.
Phil79 - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to 2PointO:

As Eeebygum points out, most of the country’s nuclear waste is already stored in the Lake District, either at Sellafield in aging ponds, or down the road in Drigg at the Low Level Waste Repository, where as far as I can tell is stored in stacked shipping containers, not really a satisfactory solution either way!

The pending decision isn't to decide if a new repository should be built, rather to explore the options if it could be done or not in the Lake District.

Interestingly Nirex explored the options for such a facility in the 90's, and plans were abandoned as they were unable to find a suitable site and due to pressure from FOE etc. I not sure the geological case for locating it in the Lake District is particularly strong.

I believe the UK is the only country where councils have been asked to volunteer locations for nuclear waste storage, rather than attempting to find a site ‘top down’ based on the most suitable criteria (which is largely about the right geology). Other countries seem to do it the other way round.
Stuart Hurworth - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Phil79:

It's based on the very successful Finnish model of 'volunteerism', mainly because it was very successful and our previous 'top-down' attempts failed badly.

The Drigg waste is basically slightly contaminated general waste from decommissioning activities, hospitals, the oil industry etc (anything too radioactive for landfill). It's super-compacted into drums which are then placed in half height containers, grouted to fill voids and each vault is sealed over with an engineered barrier.
Lord of Starkness - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Phil79:

Unless boundaries have changed recently, Sellafield and Drigg are not within the Lake District National Park.

I think the issue with Nirex was more political than unable to prove a geological case - although probably a better location would have been across the Solway firth deep inside the Criffel granite massif near Dumfries. That was never going to happen given the SNP's non nuclear stance.

The most likely solution will still be deep underground storage relatively close to the Sellafield complex. For one thing it would involve the minimum amount of movement of the damned stuff!

We've got it and something needs to be done with it - sooner rather than later. Not only has a home for the high level waste to be found, but also for the intermediate and low level waste that will be generated when the existing Sellafield plant has to be decommissioned.

Lets not forget the potential economic benefits of storing the stuff, and the security issues if we don't want to store it.

There is an alternative solution -- ship it all off to one of those North African or Middle Eastern desert states. They have little truck with environmental concerns - or protesters of any persuasion -- I'm sure there are a few who would love to get their hands on a load of radioactive material.
Stuart William - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> Seems more than reasonable to me. It seem bonkers to me to say "No" before we have even found out if the positives and negatives are valid or not rather than relying on heresy and rhetoric.

I fully understand that there needs to be a site found and why. I also understand the process that is being undertaken to find a site. However my current personal issue with it is not principally based on the unconfirmed positives or negatives but the precedent that could be set by building such a facility within the boundaries of a national park. As far as I know (I could well be wrong) the current facilities are not within these boundaries and if national park status does not prevent this kind of development then what exactly does it do? Once a nuclear storage facility has been built there then it seems a fairly small step to justify other industrial facilities or large scale housing development and the risk is that we then begin to lose what little "wilderness" still remains in this country. The petition (as I read/understood it) was against the building of the site within the national park boundaries rather than anything else.
Lord of Starkness - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to 2PointO:

Cumberland County Council has voted against moving to the next stage of further evaluation of potential sites in the county. This all but kills off the present set of proposals for a long term underground store - however before the anti nuclear lobby gets too jubilant they should consider the following.

1 As most of the waste is already at Sellafield, if a suitable underground store is not built it will ensure that building of new above ground storage 'ponds' will continue for many decades as existing ponds reach the end of their working lives.

2 The decision to construct an underground store has only been delayed for a generation or so -- someone else will have to make that decision. In the meantime we have to rely on 'old' storage technology - and all of the security and environmental issues that above ground storage in a coastal site can bring.

3 The industrial sprawl of Sellafield is already a blot on the landscape when viewed from the western fells. That blot is only going to get bigger.

When I first went on to a Sellafield construction site in the early 70's - I was told that this was one place where heavy civil engineering work will never stop. It's provided a living for generations of construction workers from all over the UK and Ireland -- as well as providing employment for thousands after the decline of the old heavy industries of Mining and Steelmaking in the 1980's.
Philip on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Lord of Starkness:

Just to correct you, the ponds are going, they contain HAL. What will remain is the casks containing the waste encapsulated in glass. These are currently above ground and what would be going in the underground storage.

I think a lot of the anti brigade think raw nuclear waste will be dumped underground. Instead it's immobilized nasties - both chemically nasty and radioactive nasty - in glass, in casks.

I think there should be a proper debate but scaremonger and incorrect details should not be used to sway people.
softlad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Philip: this from the Guardian today:

Government plans to undertake preliminary work on an underground storage dump for nuclear waste were rejected by Cumbria county council on Wednesday, adding a major roadblock to plans for a long term solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

The county and its western district councils Allerdale and Copeland which make up the "nuclear coast" opposite the Isle of Man were the only local authorities in the UK still involved in feasibility studies for the £12bn disposal facility.

Cumbria's cabinet voted 7-3 against research continuing, after evidence from independent geologists that the fractured strata of the county was impossible to entrust with such dangerous material and a hazard lasting millennia. An impassioned campaign by environmentalists also raised fears for the western Lake District, winning backing from the Lake District national park authority and hundreds of influential landscape groups in the UK and overseas.
Ridge - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Philip:
> (In reply to Lord of Starkness)
> Just to correct you, the ponds are going, they contain HAL.

Just a further correction ;-)

The ponds don't contain HAL, they contain spent fuel, (and sludge..). The HAL arises at the next stage, and it's the HAL that's vitrified into glass.
Philip on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Ridge:

Okay, but the important thing is that the encapsulation solves the immediate problem of immobilizing the waste that currently is in old buildings. I didn't realise they don't call the HAL containers ponds too.

I'm not an expert on their site, but I did have a tour of the vitrification plant last year and the current storage building for the casks.

On Radio 4 they referred to 10 times the volume of the Albert hall.
See here:

That would be almost a million cubic metres. There is an article from 2009 when they got to 5000 casks and that only filled 750 cubic metres.
Ridge - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Philip:

HAL is Highly Active Liquors. The fuel is dissolved in nitric acid, the uranium and plutonium are removed by solvent extraction, what's left is the HAL, which is concentrated and processed through the vit plants.
Philip on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to Philip)
> HAL is Highly Active Liquors. The fuel is dissolved in nitric acid, the uranium and plutonium are removed by solvent extraction, what's left is the HAL, which is concentrated and processed through the vit plant

I knew that bit, just not the name of the storage vessels for HAL.
Lord of Starkness - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Philip:

I bow to your more recent knowledge -- I've not been to Sellafield for about 7 years - and it's got to be nearly 20 since I last crossed 'the barrier' and went through the body scanner -- and I was only involved with temporary scaffolding and formwork!

I lived in West Cumbria for many years, know plenty of people who've worked in some of the 'active' areas, and am aware of most of the arguments for and against.

There's a lot of ill informed scaremongering surrounding the issue of nuclear waste. The issue of waste was never considered when the nuclear industry was in its infancy. It exists and a long term solution needs to be found. That is the debate that needs to take place.

'NO' is the easy thing to say -- it just means the question is not properly addressed. The government at some stage has got to carry out a strategic review of where in the UK is the best geological location for a deep repository - and then have to guts to say that is where it must go and provide funding for it. As it's a vote loser I can't honestly see it happening. I just hope a major incident ( earthquake / Tsunami / act of war -- all highly unlikely but not impossible ) doesn't make our children or grandchildren suffer due to our inability to take action.

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