What would it take for you to accept nuclear waste in your backyard? The country has created quite a bit of the stuff and the government is searching for someone willing to take it. Steadily produced since the end of World War Two, the question of what to do with the nuclear waste from civil, military, medical and scientific uses has been causing equal measures of fear and frustration for decades. With a new generation of nuclear power stations on the way, a fresh search is under way for a community ready to take on the challenge. Campaigner Eddie Martin says: “It’s very worrying, scary even. They have been looking for somewhere to put this material for decades and it keeps coming back to Cumbria.” Nuclear power stations have been built in 31 countries but only a handful, including Finland, Sweden, France and the US have started building permanent storage facilities. All of these are purpose-built caves hundreds of metres below ground, known as a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Once the waste is treated and sealed inside containers, it is stacked in the caverns. GDFs are expected to remain secure for thousands of years. Dr Roberts backs the basic idea but warns there are major questions to be answered. “While there are natural examples of radiation being contained – think of the mines where uranium for nuclear fuel has been sat happily for millennia – but we don’t know a lot of about how materials contained in nuclear waste behave. Cumbria is not alone. Previous studies have shown a dozen areas that might – under further scrutiny – prove suitable. One of these is Stanford on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, not far from Thetford. One expert says it “fits the international criteria very well indeed”. The area in and around the army base is about as empty as you can get in lowland England, which is likely to increase interest. But Joan Girling, who campaigns for improved safety at Suffolk’s Sizewell nuclear power plant, is uncompromising. “By the time it is decommissioned, Sizewell will have been a nuclear site for 100 years. The area has done its bit. “Just think of the issues bringing it here, it would be a nightmare. Imagine transporting all that waste from Sellafield, across the country, presumably by rail, then what?
BBC 18th Jan 2016 read more »