Bradwell: Fears proposals to bring nuclear waste to Essex are the ‘thin edge of the wedge’.
09:52 18 June 2013
The agency responsible for cleaning up old nuclear power stations denies it hasn’t consulted enough about proposals to bring atomic waste from other plants into Essex.
In a strategy document published last month, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has outlined a number of options for the disposal of Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from nuclea plants across the country. Of the eight options put forward, six entail bringing nuclear waste from either the Dungeness A or Sizewell A sites and storing it at facilities at Bradwell-on-Sea.
The suggestion is that the ILW, which can include metal items such as fuel cladding and reactor components, and sludges
from the treatment of radioactive liquid effluents, be stored in ductile cast iron containers known as “yellow boxes”.
The NDA says the proposals are part of a strategy of reducing costs by consolidating its nuclear waste storage sites.
But local opposition groups and councillors say the proposals fly in the face of a pledge that nuclear waste would never be brought into Bradwell from outside. They also complain there has been little time for the community to respond to the plans.
At anti-nuclear campaign group Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), secretary Varrie Blowers said she is concerned the plans are “the thin edge of the wedge”.
She said: “All along they have been saying that they will not bring waste from anywhere else into Bradwell and now it seems they are building regional stores.
“If they can’t be believed on that, where will it end? Will they bring in waste from Sizewell B when the times comes or will they use Bradwell as a national respository for all waste? We are worried it is the thin end of the wedge.”
She added: “There has been inadequate public consulations and the meetings were arranged at very short notice - in West Mersea only 12 people turned up.”
West Mersea town councillor Sylvia Wargent, who has spent more than a decade on the Local Community Liason Council (LCLC), a watchdog committee for Bradwell, said: “They did spring the plans on us and orginally only gave us three weeks to respond. They said we will have chances to consult in the future but it is all very vague.
But a spokesman for the NDA said the organisation has been airing its strategy of “using the NDA estate more efficiently” for about three years.
He said: “We don’t have any proposals at this stage. We are sharing possible options for consideration and have extended the consultation period until June 30. We will look at the results of the consultation over the summer and come up with a list of preferred options, which will also be subject to a round of consultation.
“This estate is owned by the government and the whole clean-up programme is costing the public purse 2 1/2 billion pounds - we are looking at doing things as safely and securely, and efficiently as possible.”
Independent Maldon district councillor Brian Beale, who also sits on the LCLC, acknowledged the NDA’s current strategy represents a departure from its previous stance but said the organisation was “entitled” to discuss new ideas.
He said: “The nuclear material we are talking about has extremely low raditaion levels. The NDA is entitled to talk about new options and we are open to these discussions.”