Stop Hinkley Press Release
UK 's nuclear waste coming to Somerset?
A public meeting, Watchet 23rd October
A former Government advisor on nuclear waste will voice his concerns, at a public meeting in Watchet, over fears that all of the UK's legacy of toxic nuclear waste might be buried at Hinkley Point.
Hinkley is one of three potential sites where stakeholders have been invited to meet and discuss preparations for the nation's Deep Geological Repository in which half a million cubic metres of the most toxic and long-lived waste could be buried.
This follows a recommendation by the Committee on Radiological Waste Management (CoRWM) to bury the nation's most dangerous nuclear waste in a single one kilometre deep repository.
Pete Wilkinson, who was a member of the Government's advisory committee for its three years' duration, is concerned that the committee's parallel recommendations to launch intensive research into safety, health and security issues have been ignored in the Government's rush to deal with the toxic nuclear waste and 'solve' the problem, paving the way for nuclear new build.
Co-founder of Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth, Pete Wilkinson feels that, although it was CoRWM's recommendation, burial is not the best way to manage the waste as there are serious unresolved questions over radioactive leakage and consequent health risks. Deep Geological Disposal also lands future generations with a waste system practically impossible to reverse.
A thorny issue for the Government is how to persuade local communities in Somerset , or anywhere in the country, to volunteer to take the waste given the evident risks involved. The question of cash incentives for local councils has already arisen with proposals to build a separate Low Level Waste site at Hinkley and may be applied to the much more dangerous High Level Waste currently stored in vaults and silos at Sellafield in Cumbria.
Controversially, West Somerset and Sedgemoor Councils have begun discussing proposals to accept these cash incentives to compensate for the risk to local communities of a Low Level Waste facility.
The packaged nuclear waste would be transported through communities from Cumbria to West Somerset including Gloucestershire, Bristol , Weston-super-Mare , Highbridge, Bridgwater and Cannington. Those living along the route would receive extra radiation doses known as 'gamma shine' over several years.
Some members of the Site Stakeholder Groups at Hinkley Point, Sellafield and Dounray in Scotland have been invited to attend Defra-sponsored meetings to push forward the framework for Deep Disposal, arousing speculation that these are favoured sites for the repository. The Scottish Executive has ruled out Deep Disposal on its territory, thus potentially narrowing the options, if speculation is correct, to just Hinkley Point and Sellafield.
Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley who is co-hosting the meeting with the local sustainability group Forum 21, said: "This is a monstrous idea getting nearer to a decision. I urge local people to raise their voice against burying this toxic nuclear waste in Somerset or burying it anywhere. Local communities will be at risk from its transportation and it is certain to pollute waterways and take lives during the thousands of years the radiation is active."
He added: "While one deep repository has been recommended for the fifty year legacy of existing waste, another would be pushed for the high level radiation produced by future nuclear power stations such as Hinkley C if it gets built. Let's stop producing this toxic waste for which there is no safe answer."
Lorna Scott, for Forum 21, said: "People living in the counties around Hinkley, and particularly Somerset, are bound to be concerned about the very real possibility of burying high level nuclear waste on their doorstep. We urge everyone to come to this meeting and keep a close watch on what is going on."
A public consultation runs until 2nd November on questions around Deep Disposal of nuclear waste. Opinions can be aired by visiting: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/radwaste-framework/index.htm
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805