Stop Hinkley Press Release

31 July 2006

Campaigners condemn n-waste plans

Stop Hinkley campaigners have condemned plans announced today for dealing with the legacy of nuclear waste in Britain.

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management or CoRWM has proposed that 500,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste which will have spawned from Britain's nuclear power stations should be buried in deep repositories. They suggest there could be several such bunkers around the country but building them will depend on an "equal partnership" between the Government and local communities near the site. Ultimately local MPs and councillors will have the final say.

CoRWM also says in its report that more research is needed into deep repositories, which environmentalists consider to be unsustainable as nuclear waste will eventually erode into water-tables and emerge back into the environment. CoRWM even suggests its plan might fail if local communities, which will have a veto upto a certain cut-off point, say no to the hazardous plan.

Stop Hinkley has fundamental criticisms of the plan. The issue of deep repositories is not new and has been rejected three times in the UK by successive Governments. Environmentalists are against the idea as the concept is unproven and relies on too much speculation. Corroded waste packages made of stainless steel and concrete have been found to corrode after only 45 years at the Harwell nuclear plant. It is difficult to make projections about the safety of these packages when the waste will be active for hundreds of thousands of years. Equally there is no absolute certainty about the durability of the UK geology which is expected to contain the waste.

Jim Duffy from Stop Hinkley said: "What is certain is the waste will leak at some time in its unimaginable lifetime. Our great grandchildren and their descendents will be innocently exposed to these dangerous substances. And to try and bribe local communities to take the waste will serve to split those communities over whether a new road or hospital is a fair exchange for the risk of future generations paying with their health. Do we really trust our local politicians with such a tremendous decision?"

He added: "CoRWM has allowed a nuclear engineering company, AMEC, to run its projects and even its public relations. Given AMEC's interest in building new nuclear power stations, it was an awful mistake to hand the project management to a company who want a settled solution to nuclear waste (1) which will pave the way to building more nuclear plants and creating three times more high level waste (2)."

"It was also suspicious that the front runner to chairing the committee was dropped at the last minute. John Large is the UK's top independent consultant but alongside other scientists has been critical of the CoRWM process and might have come to very different conclusions."

Several sites in the West Country were secretly identified by NIREX, the industry company originally set up to deal with nuclear waste. These included Hinkley Point, Norton Manor near Taunton, Lundy Island and Chepstow College.

Jim Duffy,Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 0208 715 4815 or 70968 974805

Also available for interviews: Jo Brown, Deputy Coordinator 01278 783497 

Notes:

(1) See www.nuclearspin.org

(2) Figure in comment by Gordon MCKerron, CoRWM chair at Bristol meeting January 2006

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