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Bradwell: Concerns over waste disposal at N-plant

12:00 14 January 2013

Bradwell across the Blackwater estuary

Bradwell across the Blackwater estuary

ANTI-nuclear protesters have claimed that waste from a disused Essex power station may never be disposed of – leaving the site a “dangerous radioactive dump” for generations to come.

The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) said there was little prospect of radioactive waste ever being moved into deep underground storage, despite Government proposals to open a repository in Cumbria by 2040.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said plans for the deep geological facility could move to the next stage by the end of January, and argued that there was no reason to assume waste from Bradwell would not be removed.

Bradwell, located at the mouth of the River Blackwater, is one of the sites planned for redevelopment in a new round of nuclear reactors.

Members of BANNG fear that more waste will be stored at the site in the form of spent fuel if a new plant is developed.

Vice-chairman Barry Turner said: “The picture of Bradwell as a dangerous nuclear dump into the far future has become clearer in recent weeks.

“Instead of clean-up and restoration of the site, we face the prospect of volumes of nuclear waste with nowhere to go, left on a sinking coastline.

“In the first place, Bradwell is likely to be well down in the queue for the repository. Secondly, it is highly unlikely a repository would be available by 2040.

“In fact, it is quite possible it will never be available. At present there is no agreed method of disposing of waste and little prospect of an agreed site.”

West Cumbria is the only place in the UK to have expressed interest in hosting a deep geological repository. Copeland Borough Council, Cumbria County Council and Allerdale Borough Council will all vote on January 30 whether to progress to the next phase of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership’s consultation.

If it goes ahead, the repository could begin receiving waste from the UK’s nuclear reactors from around 2040.

A spokesman for the NDA said: “The Government is going through the siting process, by inviting communities to express an interest but ruling out unsuitable areas.

“Cumbria is the only area to have expressed an interest and is currently at the end of stage three, awaiting a decision on January 30 whether to proceed to the next stage – a desk-based geological survey.

“No doubt opinion is divided and it’s uncertain how things will go – but it is not for the Government to impose a solution on a community, it’s up to the local area to decide.

“Cumbria would get a community benefit package for agreeing to host it, and the facility itself would come with good, well-paid jobs.

“The 2040 date has for a long time been a reasonable assumption of when a repository might become available. There is no reason for that assumption not to remain reasonable.”

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