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Sizewell C: Campaigners call for end to N-plant plans after radioactive waste ‘set back’

10:00 07 February 2013

Artist impression of Sizewell C. The new powerstation shown in lighter grey.

Artist impression of Sizewell C. The new powerstation shown in lighter grey.

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ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners are calling for a halt to proposals for a Sizewell C nuclear power station following the latest setback in Government plans to find a UK community willing to host a deep disposal site for radioactive waste.

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Cumbria County Council has voted not to allow the dump to be created within its county borders – despite the willingness of one of its district councils to pursue the idea.

A search for a community willing to host the dump has now been restarted, but no other district in the whole of the UK has so far expressed any enthusiasm. Anti-nuclear campaigners say that without a long-term disposal option for nuclear waste, plans for Sizewell C and its sister plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset should be halted – even if the projects overcome their current investment problems.

The deep disposal site is needed for high-level radioactive waste, which consists of spent reactor fuel rods, and intermediate-level waste such as contaminated items of plant.

At Sizewell B the current “pond” storage facility for spent fuel rods is due to be full by 2015 and work has already started on a dry store, which will be capable of holding all the spent fuel from its expected 60 years of operation.

Sizewell C will, if built, have the capacity to store all the spent fuel rods from its operating lifetime. However, the Government and the nuclear industry have for decades been promoting plans for a deep “final disposal” site and Cumbria, which is already the location of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing works, was considered ideal.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said the Cumbria decision meant highly radioactive waste would be stored at Sizewell indefinitely. “It is blindingly obvious to us that the game is up and that the idea of having a Sizewell C must not just be de-railed but abandoned,” he said.

Joan Girling, chairman of the Suffolk-based Communities Against Nuclear Expansion, said: “We’re now back to square one. Until they find a final disposal site for the waste, they should not be thinking of building any more nuclear power stations. To do so would be immoral.”

An EDF Energy spokeswoman said: “The process to plan and implement a geological disposal facility is well-defined and we are confident that it will lead to a solution.

“EDF Energy can continue to store radioactive waste and spent fuel safely and securely above ground for as long as necessary.

“Cumbria’s decision does not have an impact on EDF Energy’s new nuclear projects in Somerset and Suffolk. Waste from new nuclear sites would not be due for underground disposal for many years to come.”

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