Nuclear waste dump warning
By David GreenSITES in East Anglia might be reconsidered for a nuclear waste dump, an environment group warned last night.The warning came after it was disclosed that three locations in the region were shortlisted in the 1980s for a nuclear waste dump and more than a dozen others were considered.
By David Green
SITES in East Anglia might be reconsidered for a nuclear waste dump, an environment group warned last night.
The warning came after it was disclosed that three locations in the region were shortlisted in the 1980s for a nuclear waste dump and more than a dozen others were considered.
Secret documents released by Nirex, the UK's nuclear waste consultants, showed that 28 sites in East Anglia were investigated and that three of them - Bradwell and Potton Island in Essex and Stanford in Norfolk - were included in the final shortlist of 10.
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The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed 11 sites in Suffolk were considered in the late 1980s, along with a further six sites in Essex and nine in Norfolk.
Most of the sites were in the ownership of Government departments, most of them by the Ministry of Defence, and other sites, including Sizewell and Bradwell, were owned by the nuclear industry.
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The Suffolk sites were in Barnham, Bawdsey, Bentwaters, Honington, Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Orfordness, Sizewell, Stradishall, Wattisham and Woodbridge.
Essex sites on the initial list included two in Colchester and others in Fingringhoe, Shoeburyness, Waltham Abbey and Wethersfield, as well as the two which made the national shortlist, Bradwell and Potton Island.
Nationally, a total of 537 sites were initially investigated by Nirex before the shortlist was whittled down to two sites, Sellafield in Cumbria and Dounreay in Scotland.
Disclosure of the documents came as Nirex prepared to begin another search for a site for the dumping of the UK's radioactive waste, much of which is currently being stored at nuclear power station sites.
Nirex pledged yesterday the old list of potential sites would not be the starting point for the new one and that future studies and consultations would be conducted without secrecy.
But environment campaigners warned communities in East Anglia that sites in the region could once again come under scrutiny.
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "Despite what ministers might say, Nirex has made it quite clear that each of the sites considered geologically suitable in the past could be considered suitable in the future.
"Every community named on this list should take steps to help halt plans to expand nuclear power in the UK. The best way to begin dealing with the UK's nuclear waste legacy starts with halting the production of any more."
Deborah Ardizzone, spokeswoman for the Suffolk-based East Anglian Safe Energy Alliance, said the region would undoubtedly come under scrutiny again.
"I don't think any of these sites will be totally excluded, apart perhaps from Orfordness where they would be worried about radioactivity escaping into the sea," she added.
David Palk, development control manager for Suffolk County Council, said there was concern that the previous search for a nuclear dumping site had been conducted in secret.
"It seems all the Suffolk sites listed failed the criteria at a very early stage, but we would hope that the next process will be conducted in the open," he added.
Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council, said: "I am obviously very concerned that such a study was undertaken in absolute secrecy and without any involvement from the affected community."
But he was pleased that the previously secret data had finally been published and that Nirex had committed itself to much more open public consultation in future.
"We will obviously expect Nirex to stand by its commitment that the named sites will not be a starting point for the next consultation exercise. Given that south Essex is now a major growth area, I cannot believe that these sites would be identified in any future exercise," added Lord Hanningfield.