British nuclear industry under fire

A sensitive shortlist of 12 British sites earmarked as potential dumping grounds for dangerous radioactive waste has triggered calls for an end to the country's nuclear industry.

    Environmentalists say nuclear power is dangerous (File pic)

    Consultancy firm Nirex released the list on Friday, which was drawn up in the 1980s, following requests under freedom of information laws.


    It identified seven sites in England and another five in Scotland that were considered as part of a programme for waste burial that was abandoned in 1997.


    Nirex insisted that any new selection process of suitable sites to dispose of nuclear waste would not use the list as a starting point.


    But the New Scientist magazine, which demanded the publication of the list, warned that such a threat still hung over the named locations.


    "It is an absolute disgrace that the location of these sites has been kept from the public for so long," said Tony Juniper, director of the environmental action group Friends of the Earth.


    "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," he said.


    "Every community named on this list should take steps to help halt plans to expand nuclear power in the UK"

    Tony Juniper,
    Director of Friends of the Earth

    "Every community named on this list should take steps to help halt plans to expand nuclear power in the UK."


    Juniper said the best way to start tackling a long legacy of nuclear waste in Britain would be to halt further production immediately.


    "The UK's energy future must lie in energy efficiency, the production of safe, renewable energy and the cleaner use of fossil fuels, not in trying to breathe new life into the discredited, dangerous and expensive disaster of nuclear power," he said.


    The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, a group charged with finding the best option to manage Britain's long-term radioactive rubbish, is due to report next July with recommendations for waste management.

    Hazardous waste


    If it suggests using a deep burial place to deal with intermediate and low-level wastes, a new site selection would not begin until 2007 or 2008.


    Radioactive waste has been created in significant quantities in Britain since the 1940s and the nation has significant amounts which will remain potentially hazardous for thousands of years.


    Previous attempts to provide a long-term waste-management facility for these wastes have ended in failure.


    Most recently that occurred in 1997, when the government blocked the development of an underground rock characterisation facility at Sellafield, north-west England.


    The waste is currently being stored at 34 locations around the UK awaiting a long-term waste-management facility.



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