WORKERS from Sellafield are urging Cumbrian councils not to shy away from the next stage of feasibility studies into a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste in Cumbria.

Ahead of next Wednesday's decision by Cumbria County Council, Allerdale and Copeland councils over whether the county should remain in the search to find a home for a vast underground nuclear waste repository, staff at the nuclear site said the area should not bail out so early.

It stressed that any yes vote would not mean 'digging, sub-surface work; or boreholes,' but merely 'experts conducting geological studies from their desks.'

They added this would include an inventory of what waste Britain has and then discussions between the council and the government over a social and economic benefits package for the county.

Sellafield employs around 12,000 people with thousands more in the local supply chain. Kevin Coyne, Unite national officer and chair of Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy, said: “The people of Cumbria will not be making any commitments to a geological disposal facility by agreeing to continue with this study. What the workers at Sellafield want is a full and proper investigation into the feasibility of such a facility in Cumbria. Only then can we consider how best to proceed.

"Britain has been searching for a national waste repository for over 30 years. In the meantime Sellafield workers have the responsibility of looking after most of this radioactive waste. It is not going to go away. Good science needs to prevail in order for Cumbria and the rest of the UK to resolve how we deal with this important issue."

Just this week, Cumbria Tourism said it remained neutral on the issue but would strongly object if any plan encroached into Lake District National Park territory. Conservation charity, the Friends of the Lake District, have also called on county councillors to pull out.

Meanwhile, national campaign group 38 degrees, says 16,000 people have signed a petition on its Campaigns by You’ web site against the plan.

The ‘No Nuclear Dump’ campaign was set up and attracted over 1,000 new names each day, said 38 degrees.

David Babbs, of 38 Degrees, said: “This is about people power. For over 16,000 people – over 1/3 of them from Cumbria - to sign this petition in just a few weeks sends a really clear message: that the public don’t want a nuclear dump in the Lake District. The councillors need to take the wishes of their constituents seriously into account before they decide to proceed any further with the nuclear dump."