Gallery: Cumbria says 'no' to underground radioactive waste repository

Supporters of both sides of the argument were demonstrating outside the meeting

Supporters of both sides of the argument were demonstrating outside the meeting

First published in News
Last updated

CONTROVERSIAL plans to search for an underground site to store nuclear waste in Cumbria were rejected today.

Cumbria County Council's cabinet decided that West Cumbria should no longer be considered as a potential location for a deep £12bn geological repository.

Members voted to exclude the two districts of Copeland and Allerdale from further consideration in the Government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process.

Earlier, Copeland Borough Council's executive voted 'yes' to going forward to the next stage of the process.

At a meeting in Carlisle today, the 10 members of the county council’s cabinet also agreed that the council would encourage the Government to make the necessary investment to improve the existing surface storage facilities at Sellafield, while the Government finds a permanent solution for the country’s higher activity radioactive waste.

The decision effectively ends Cumbria County Council’s four-year formal involvement in the MRWS process and puts an end to the doubts and concerns of many local people.

Fears have escalated around the crucial decision from the three local authorities of Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Borough Council and Copeland Borough Council on whether to progress to the next stage of allowing the Government to conduct desktop geological surveys.

There were also worries that any underground facility could encroach into the Lake District National Park.

As a decision to continue with the process needed the agreement of both the district and county councils, Cumbria County Council’s decision has removed both districts from consideration.

The nuclear industry is, and will continue to be, a key part of the Cumbrian economy, a county council spokesman said.

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"West Cumbria is a world-renowned centre for nuclear skills and expertise and the ‘home’ of the UK’s nuclear industry," a statement read.

"Most of the UK’s high-level radioactive waste is stored at Sellafield, and therefore what happens to that waste in the future is, and will continue to be, of vital interest to Cumbria.

"The findings of a National Audit Office report in November 2012 which looked at the way that the Nuclear Decommissing Authority and Sellafield Ltd were managing risk reduction at Sellafield clearly demonstrated the need for immediate improvements in the management of major projects at the site.

"The report criticised the site for posing a significant risk to people and the environment because of the deteriorating conditions of radioactive waste storage facilities.

"Cumbria County Council said when the report was published that it would need to be closely involved in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s improvement plan to improve the security and safety of interim storage and the management of the major investment that will continue to be needed into the site.

"Cabinet members made it clear at the meeting that this had been a highly contentious issue, which had polarised opinions and that they had listened to and considered all of the evidence and opinions put forward.

"This included the report produced by the West Cumbria MRWS Partnership, which as well including the local authorities, included representation from industry, parish councils, the Lake District National Park, the tourist sector, unions and other community groups.

"Councillors acknowledged the work that had been done by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) since October 2012, when all three Cumbrian authorities asked for further information and clarification on a number of key principles before a decision could be taken.

"Despite reassurances from DECC that primary legislation would underpin the right of withdrawal, councils were still being asked to proceed to the next stage without legislation formalising the right of withdrawal."

Coun Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “Cabinet believes there is sufficient doubt around the suitability of West Cumbria’s geology to put an end now to the uncertainty and worry this is causing for our communities.

“Cumbria is not the best place geologically in the UK – the Government’s efforts need to be focused on disposing of the waste underground in the safest place, not the easiest.

“Members have remained concerned throughout on the issue of the legal right of withdrawal if we proceed to the next stage.

“Despite assurances from Government that they intend to introduce this as primary legislation, we do believe that this could have been done far sooner to ease our concerns.

“The fact remains the right of withdrawal is not yet enshrined in statute and we could not take the risk of saying yes today without this being absolutely nailed down.

“Cumbria has a unique and world-renowned landscape which needs to be cherished and protected.

“While Sellafield and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as the place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient."

Coun Stewart Young, deputy leader of Cumbria County Council, said: "The case for investment in Sellafield is now more pressing than ever.

“We had always raised concerns over the lack of any 'plan B' from Government and the fact that West Cumbria was the only area to express an interest in the process left the Government with few options if we decided not to proceed.

“It is now time for the Government to secure the long-term future of the nuclear industry and put in place robust storage arrangements at Sellafield while it decides how to continue the search for a repository elsewhere in the UK."

Bill Jefferson, chairman of the Lake District National Park Authority, who observed the crunch meeting, said: “It’s a good day for democracy. They have listened to the people.

“The rural communities of this county and the national park came out strongly against this.

“I’m full of admiration for the work that’s been put in by the county council, particularly the cabinet, Eddie Martin and Coun Stewart Young.”

Dr Ruth Balogh, nuclear issues campaigner for West Cumbria and North Lakes Friends of the Earth, said: “I’m delighted that our local representatives have truly represented the concerns of Cumbria.

“This was always a national issue - it was not fair to put the burden to Cumbria to decide.”

Coun Tim Knowles, cabinet member for transport and the environment, refused to comment on the outcome.

He had earlier proposed an alternative plan to narrow the search for a suitable site to the Copeland, close to the Sellafield site, excluding the national park, but this was rejected.

Coun Knowles said it would 'perverse' to stop the process while the council did not have answers to ‘all the questions’.

Council leader Eddie Martin said: “I have no doubt at all that this decision will precipitate some reactions in the corridors of Whitehall."

The ‘no’ vote was met with ‘immense disappointment’ by the workforce at Sellafield.

A statement read: “Britain has been searching for a national waste repository for over 30 years.

“The Sellafield workforce has the responsibility of looking after 70 per cent of that waste.

“There are around 12,000 jobs at Sellafield, with thousands more in the local supply chain.

“The industry is hugely important to the local economy and provides highly skilled, well paid employment."

Kevin Coyne, Unite national officer and chair of Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy, said: “This is an extremely short-sighted decision by the Cumbria councils that voted no.

“The workforce at Sellafield will be immensely disappointed with the decision. 70 per cent of Britain's radioactive waste is based in Cumbria and the Sellafield workforce are responsible for it.

“The people of Cumbria were not going to be making any commitments to a waste repository by agreeing to continue with this study.

“This waste is not  going to disappear but because of today's decision there are no answers for how we can effectively deal with it.”

Jack Ellerby, policy officer with Friends of the Lake District, which urged councillors to pull out of the search, added: “We, like a lot of organisations, had looked at the geological evidence of the area and several of the experts were saying it was unsuitable.

“It will be reassuring for tourism businesses. West Cumbria has a strong nuclear industry with a lot of expertise there. Now we can move forward to manage the waste safely.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said despite the no vote from the county council, the borough remained in a strong position within the nuclear industry.

Mr Reed is set to press the Government to work with Copeland Borough Council to develop a process for storing nuclear waste. 

But Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said this was 'worrying' as the district contained large parts of the Lake District National Park.

Mr Reed said: “I welcome the clarity provided by today’s decisions.

“Copeland is now in an exceptionally strong position to take forward the important work of radioactive waste management for the UK.

“There is an unprecedented cross-party mandate for this, an undeniable environmental and moral case and an overwhelming economic case for taking this issue forward.

“Most importantly, doing so is in the best interests of the people of Copeland and West Cumbria.

“This work will be taken forward quickly.

“This may not be within the MRWS process, but Copeland now has a series of options open to it and I have already begun the process of exploring these for the benefit of my constituents with industry and with Government.

“As one door shuts, another one opens, but this is a problem that will not go away.

“The people of West Cumbria, Copeland Borough Council and the Sellafield workforce and trade unions will work together to solve this problem.

“I’d like to thank those county councillors who voted for moving towards Stage 4 – they clearly understand the economic and environmental challenge facing Cumbria - and it should be noted that county councillors representing Copeland voted unanimously to move towards the next stage.

“Given the established policy of Cumbria County Council to seek an underground disposal facility, today’s decision is curious, but in no way surprising.

“There’s a great deal of work to be done to take this issue forward and this has already begun.

“My constituents will welcome the opportunity to have greater control of their own destiny than before, and I look forward to the work ahead.”

Mr Farron responded: “The county council’s decision today has put the whole question of whether nuclear waste can be stored in West Cumbria in doubt.

“The Government should now be looking at other more geological suitable sites throughout the rest of the UK.

“At the very minimum, Copeland and the Government must rule out the Lake District National Park as an area for this facility.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said he was 'disappointed' with today's decision.

“We respect the decision made today by Cumbria councillors," said Mr Davey.

“They have invested a great deal of time in this project and have provided valuable lessons on how to take forward this process in future.

“While their decision to withdraw is disappointing, Cumbria will continue to play a central role in the energy and nuclear power sectors.

“We are clear that nuclear power should play a key role in our future energy mix, as it does today.

“I am confident that the programme to manage radioactive waste safely will ultimately be successful, and that the decisions made in Cumbria today will not undermine prospects for new nuclear power stations.

“It is, however, absolutely vital that we get to grips with our national nuclear legacy.

“The issue has been kicked into the long-grass for far too long.

“We remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of radioactive waste.

“We also remain committed to the principles of voluntarism and a community-led approach.

“The fact that Copeland voted in favour of entering the search for a potential site for a GDF demonstrates that communities recognise the benefits associated with hosting such a facility.

“For any host community there will be a substantial community benefits package, worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

“That is in addition to the hundreds of jobs and major investment that such a huge infrastructure project could bring.

“We will now embark on a renewed drive to ensure that the case for hosting a GDF is drawn to the attention of other communities.”

Comments (18)

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4:57pm Wed 30 Jan 13

lakesailor says...

Tree-Huggers deny prosperity to West Cumbria
Tree-Huggers deny prosperity to West Cumbria lakesailor
  • Score: 0

6:41pm Wed 30 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me.

At the end of the day the best decision was made.
Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me. At the end of the day the best decision was made. zaney5
  • Score: 0

11:16pm Wed 30 Jan 13

lakesailor says...

If the next stage of the investigation had been undertaken perhaps the best options may have been highlighted.
We will never know.
What we will know is that economic prosperity has been thrown out of the window before we even knew what was possible.
If the next stage of the investigation had been undertaken perhaps the best options may have been highlighted. We will never know. What we will know is that economic prosperity has been thrown out of the window before we even knew what was possible. lakesailor
  • Score: 0

12:52am Thu 31 Jan 13

Helvellyn55 says...

Small minded local fools more interested in the ballot box that local or national interest.

Hopefully they will be overruled.
Small minded local fools more interested in the ballot box that local or national interest. Hopefully they will be overruled. Helvellyn55
  • Score: 0

8:05am Thu 31 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

Bitterness is a terrible thing. Although it's rather amusing!
Bitterness is a terrible thing. Although it's rather amusing! zaney5
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Thu 31 Jan 13

life cycle too says...

zaney5 wrote:
Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me.

At the end of the day the best decision was made.
More like vote catchers!
[quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me. At the end of the day the best decision was made.[/p][/quote]More like vote catchers! life cycle too
  • Score: 0

1:10pm Thu 31 Jan 13

life cycle too says...

Tony Martin said:
"Cumbria has a unique and world-renowned landscape which needs to be cherished and protected."

Too right, fell walkers are wearing away paths, causing erosion.
Plans are afoot to dive in Windermere to recover 10 tons of rubbish - the area is at risk from people!

He went on to say:
“While Sellafield and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as the place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient."

So the fall out from Chernobyl that has seen restrictions in animals entering the food chain must have sullied that reputation too - along with all the waste presently stored ABOVE ground!
Tony Martin said: "Cumbria has a unique and world-renowned landscape which needs to be cherished and protected." Too right, fell walkers are wearing away paths, causing erosion. Plans are afoot to dive in Windermere to recover 10 tons of rubbish - the area is at risk from people! He went on to say: “While Sellafield and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as the place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient." So the fall out from Chernobyl that has seen restrictions in animals entering the food chain must have sullied that reputation too - along with all the waste presently stored ABOVE ground! life cycle too
  • Score: 0

2:04pm Thu 31 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

life cycle too wrote:
zaney5 wrote:
Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me.

At the end of the day the best decision was made.
More like vote catchers!
Well whatever works!
I'm not complaining. Never wanted it in the first place.
[quote][p][bold]life cycle too[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me. At the end of the day the best decision was made.[/p][/quote]More like vote catchers![/p][/quote]Well whatever works! I'm not complaining. Never wanted it in the first place. zaney5
  • Score: 0

2:33pm Thu 31 Jan 13

life cycle too says...

zaney5 wrote:
life cycle too wrote:
zaney5 wrote:
Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me.

At the end of the day the best decision was made.
More like vote catchers!
Well whatever works!
I'm not complaining. Never wanted it in the first place.
It is already there, in flasks submerged in ponds of water!

If it leaked when the wind was like it was last night, you would be on the receiving end inside of 20 minutes... not that you should be unduly alarmed - the flasks are well tested!

Some of the waste at Drigg which was hotly opposed, was things like white paper coats, which had been worn by X-ray technicians.

Smoke detectors have a small amout of radio active isotope in to ionise the air sample, which makes a mockery of Manchesters claim to be a radioactive free zone - they also have several major hospitals with X-ray departments, and many engineering companies use an isotope to carry out X-ray testing of tanks and pipes on pressure vessels!
[quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]life cycle too[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: Really, cos those council members that voted against didn't look like tree huggers to me. At the end of the day the best decision was made.[/p][/quote]More like vote catchers![/p][/quote]Well whatever works! I'm not complaining. Never wanted it in the first place.[/p][/quote]It is already there, in flasks submerged in ponds of water! If it leaked when the wind was like it was last night, you would be on the receiving end inside of 20 minutes... not that you should be unduly alarmed - the flasks are well tested! Some of the waste at Drigg which was hotly opposed, was things like white paper coats, which had been worn by X-ray technicians. Smoke detectors have a small amout of radio active isotope in to ionise the air sample, which makes a mockery of Manchesters claim to be a radioactive free zone - they also have several major hospitals with X-ray departments, and many engineering companies use an isotope to carry out X-ray testing of tanks and pipes on pressure vessels! life cycle too
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Mary D says...

Once again I see name calling and yet precious little meritable argument against the decision.
I too am just a concerned local person. I’m from Allerdale; one of the two Cumbrian Borough’s that initially were open to the possibility of siting a repository.
I began to read about the proposals, what was said by the industry, the leading scientists, the local parishes, the workers and the other individual local people and groups formed in connection to it.
I became so concerned I finally became one of the 40 or so members of the public who attended the County Council meeting yesterday and posed a question to the cabinet.
I was witness to the speech by the leader of my County Council prior to the vote and, may I say, although I went into that meeting with a negative presumption of the outcome and for this a somewhat negative opinion of the Councillors, I have never witnessed a more balanced, courageous, astute and prudent act.

Some points Mr Martin made;
Although those in favour of Stage 4 reiterated the ‘right to withdraw’ from the process the government have still failed to legislate on this although there has been more than ample time and opportinity. Therefore there was no actual 'right to withdraw' in place.

Although Cumbria does indeed perform a vital service to the rest of the country in that 70% of the country’s waste is stored here, as is the Sellafield plant situated here, but the area still has one of the worst infrastructures in the country and has huge depravation in the local community, which exists side by side to the multi-billion pound nuclear industry showing the true total lack of investment and gratitude to our area.

The Councillors had repeatedly asked for the ‘benefit package’ to be clearly outlined. The government still failed to do this although they had ample time and opportunity.

Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored.

A referendum was taken on who would be our next police and crime commissioner but this issue is of immeasurably greater importance so Mr. Martin said that a referendum would have been the only correct way forward.

Whatever the reason for it, the council kept being asked by Cumbrians why they were not even informed of the proposal. He said this was a failure and as such, again for democracy, is was not possible to support proceeding to Stage 4 at this time.

He liked the Cumbrian landscape “just the way it is” and our National park and Areas of Natural Beauty were to be treasured.

The possible damage to other Cumbrian industries, namely our largest industry, that of tourism, would be at substantial risk.

Scientific opinion was that the area was unsuitable and the truth is that Cumbria is far from the first likely site for such suitability.

Our science progresses constantly and our waste of today may be our fuel of tomorrow and deep disposal of it may be throwing away our assets.

Following the findings of the National Audit Office report which criticised safety of the storage at Sellafield Mr. Martin said that the facilities above ground should be improved which would create jobs, allow the waste to be monitored closely, keep the possibility of future use available and still allow research and legislation for a repository should a suitable site be identified and so far unanswered questions about safety, be satisfied. (And I also say here that if the above ground storage has been allowed to so dangerously deteriorate then what faith could we have in maintenance of waste buried ‘out of sight out of mind’.)

It was also pointed out (but I can’t remember by which councillor. I think Stewart Young, the Deputy Leader) that the impression that Stage 4 would lead to lots of jobs was false. Sellafield will possibly lose 2000 jobs over the next 5 years but Stage 4 might take 15 years and only employ 200 people, most of whom would be computer and geological specialists and therefore not likely to be West Cumbrian. This councillor said we need investment in new industry now and also that improvement to the now dangerous, above ground storage at Sellafield would work toward this.

This is but a small selection of points made which were all equally valid and well considered. I await the minutes to remember everything.

Personally, when I consider that the Cumbrian people were proven so valueless to the government of 1957 when they pushed the Windscales site past it’s safety levels in reckless pursuit of the hydrogen bomb. With the resulting fire almost being a nuclear explosion. AND that the workers of the Cumbrian Nuclear Industry were so utterly disrespected and dirtied upon at that time with the men who actually prevented the explosion being blamed for the disaster for ‘errors’ they made, I personally have no faith whatsoever that the attitude of the current government toward the Cumbrian people is any different today.
Our area is indeed deprived but I can’t see how the nuclear industry could want it any other way. If another industry were to flourish in West Cumbria and thus reduce the ‘Oliver Twist – please sir, can I have some more’ dependency on the handouts of that industry, people would logically become a lot less resigned to the presence of Sellafield and the political and social leverage of the nuclear industry in the area would, logically, decline. It’s my personal opinion the industry can not afford West Cumbria to be affluent.
Mr. Martin said it could be lonely having such responsibility and that a courageous decision could cost you your position.... He said we had to consider what future generations would think of that we decided now and hoped they would look back favourably. I believe his pure motivation in this decision was to do what he believed was the right thing.

I've got total respect for the man.
Once again I see name calling and yet precious little meritable argument against the decision. I too am just a concerned local person. I’m from Allerdale; one of the two Cumbrian Borough’s that initially were open to the possibility of siting a repository. I began to read about the proposals, what was said by the industry, the leading scientists, the local parishes, the workers and the other individual local people and groups formed in connection to it. I became so concerned I finally became one of the 40 or so members of the public who attended the County Council meeting yesterday and posed a question to the cabinet. I was witness to the speech by the leader of my County Council prior to the vote and, may I say, although I went into that meeting with a negative presumption of the outcome and for this a somewhat negative opinion of the Councillors, I have never witnessed a more balanced, courageous, astute and prudent act. Some points Mr Martin made; Although those in favour of Stage 4 reiterated the ‘right to withdraw’ from the process the government have still failed to legislate on this although there has been more than ample time and opportinity. Therefore there was no actual 'right to withdraw' in place. Although Cumbria does indeed perform a vital service to the rest of the country in that 70% of the country’s waste is stored here, as is the Sellafield plant situated here, but the area still has one of the worst infrastructures in the country and has huge depravation in the local community, which exists side by side to the multi-billion pound nuclear industry showing the true total lack of investment and gratitude to our area. The Councillors had repeatedly asked for the ‘benefit package’ to be clearly outlined. The government still failed to do this although they had ample time and opportunity. Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored. A referendum was taken on who would be our next police and crime commissioner but this issue is of immeasurably greater importance so Mr. Martin said that a referendum would have been the only correct way forward. Whatever the reason for it, the council kept being asked by Cumbrians why they were not even informed of the proposal. He said this was a failure and as such, again for democracy, is was not possible to support proceeding to Stage 4 at this time. He liked the Cumbrian landscape “just the way it is” and our National park and Areas of Natural Beauty were to be treasured. The possible damage to other Cumbrian industries, namely our largest industry, that of tourism, would be at substantial risk. Scientific opinion was that the area was unsuitable and the truth is that Cumbria is far from the first likely site for such suitability. Our science progresses constantly and our waste of today may be our fuel of tomorrow and deep disposal of it may be throwing away our assets. Following the findings of the National Audit Office report which criticised safety of the storage at Sellafield Mr. Martin said that the facilities above ground should be improved which would create jobs, allow the waste to be monitored closely, keep the possibility of future use available and still allow research and legislation for a repository should a suitable site be identified and so far unanswered questions about safety, be satisfied. (And I also say here that if the above ground storage has been allowed to so dangerously deteriorate then what faith could we have in maintenance of waste buried ‘out of sight out of mind’.) It was also pointed out (but I can’t remember by which councillor. I think Stewart Young, the Deputy Leader) that the impression that Stage 4 would lead to lots of jobs was false. Sellafield will possibly lose 2000 jobs over the next 5 years but Stage 4 might take 15 years and only employ 200 people, most of whom would be computer and geological specialists and therefore not likely to be West Cumbrian. This councillor said we need investment in new industry now and also that improvement to the now dangerous, above ground storage at Sellafield would work toward this. This is but a small selection of points made which were all equally valid and well considered. I await the minutes to remember everything. Personally, when I consider that the Cumbrian people were proven so valueless to the government of 1957 when they pushed the Windscales site past it’s safety levels in reckless pursuit of the hydrogen bomb. With the resulting fire almost being a nuclear explosion. AND that the workers of the Cumbrian Nuclear Industry were so utterly disrespected and dirtied upon at that time with the men who actually prevented the explosion being blamed for the disaster for ‘errors’ they made, I personally have no faith whatsoever that the attitude of the current government toward the Cumbrian people is any different today. Our area is indeed deprived but I can’t see how the nuclear industry could want it any other way. If another industry were to flourish in West Cumbria and thus reduce the ‘Oliver Twist – please sir, can I have some more’ dependency on the handouts of that industry, people would logically become a lot less resigned to the presence of Sellafield and the political and social leverage of the nuclear industry in the area would, logically, decline. It’s my personal opinion the industry can not afford West Cumbria to be affluent. Mr. Martin said it could be lonely having such responsibility and that a courageous decision could cost you your position.... He said we had to consider what future generations would think of that we decided now and hoped they would look back favourably. I believe his pure motivation in this decision was to do what he believed was the right thing. I've got total respect for the man. Mary D
  • Score: 0

5:34pm Thu 31 Jan 13

in despair says...

What a shameful, cowardly, shortsighted, disgraceful decision by these councillors. Dont they, and all the doom mongers realise that Cumbria already has this toxic stuff stored in the County in far less secure and rigorous storage NOW. How could something designed specifically for the very long term be more damaging to the area and our highly prized tourist trade/National Park than the arrangements in place now.
What is more a positive decision now did not make any firm commitments.
I hope Copeland find a way to take this forward without the dead hand of the County Council on them.
What a shameful, cowardly, shortsighted, disgraceful decision by these councillors. Dont they, and all the doom mongers realise that Cumbria already has this toxic stuff stored in the County in far less secure and rigorous storage NOW. How could something designed specifically for the very long term be more damaging to the area and our highly prized tourist trade/National Park than the arrangements in place now. What is more a positive decision now did not make any firm commitments. I hope Copeland find a way to take this forward without the dead hand of the County Council on them. in despair
  • Score: 0

12:24am Fri 1 Feb 13

marianneb says...

Mary D wrote:
Once again I see name calling and yet precious little meritable argument against the decision.
I too am just a concerned local person. I’m from Allerdale; one of the two Cumbrian Borough’s that initially were open to the possibility of siting a repository.
I began to read about the proposals, what was said by the industry, the leading scientists, the local parishes, the workers and the other individual local people and groups formed in connection to it.
I became so concerned I finally became one of the 40 or so members of the public who attended the County Council meeting yesterday and posed a question to the cabinet.
I was witness to the speech by the leader of my County Council prior to the vote and, may I say, although I went into that meeting with a negative presumption of the outcome and for this a somewhat negative opinion of the Councillors, I have never witnessed a more balanced, courageous, astute and prudent act.

Some points Mr Martin made;
Although those in favour of Stage 4 reiterated the ‘right to withdraw’ from the process the government have still failed to legislate on this although there has been more than ample time and opportinity. Therefore there was no actual 'right to withdraw' in place.

Although Cumbria does indeed perform a vital service to the rest of the country in that 70% of the country’s waste is stored here, as is the Sellafield plant situated here, but the area still has one of the worst infrastructures in the country and has huge depravation in the local community, which exists side by side to the multi-billion pound nuclear industry showing the true total lack of investment and gratitude to our area.

The Councillors had repeatedly asked for the ‘benefit package’ to be clearly outlined. The government still failed to do this although they had ample time and opportunity.

Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored.

A referendum was taken on who would be our next police and crime commissioner but this issue is of immeasurably greater importance so Mr. Martin said that a referendum would have been the only correct way forward.

Whatever the reason for it, the council kept being asked by Cumbrians why they were not even informed of the proposal. He said this was a failure and as such, again for democracy, is was not possible to support proceeding to Stage 4 at this time.

He liked the Cumbrian landscape “just the way it is” and our National park and Areas of Natural Beauty were to be treasured.

The possible damage to other Cumbrian industries, namely our largest industry, that of tourism, would be at substantial risk.

Scientific opinion was that the area was unsuitable and the truth is that Cumbria is far from the first likely site for such suitability.

Our science progresses constantly and our waste of today may be our fuel of tomorrow and deep disposal of it may be throwing away our assets.

Following the findings of the National Audit Office report which criticised safety of the storage at Sellafield Mr. Martin said that the facilities above ground should be improved which would create jobs, allow the waste to be monitored closely, keep the possibility of future use available and still allow research and legislation for a repository should a suitable site be identified and so far unanswered questions about safety, be satisfied. (And I also say here that if the above ground storage has been allowed to so dangerously deteriorate then what faith could we have in maintenance of waste buried ‘out of sight out of mind’.)

It was also pointed out (but I can’t remember by which councillor. I think Stewart Young, the Deputy Leader) that the impression that Stage 4 would lead to lots of jobs was false. Sellafield will possibly lose 2000 jobs over the next 5 years but Stage 4 might take 15 years and only employ 200 people, most of whom would be computer and geological specialists and therefore not likely to be West Cumbrian. This councillor said we need investment in new industry now and also that improvement to the now dangerous, above ground storage at Sellafield would work toward this.

This is but a small selection of points made which were all equally valid and well considered. I await the minutes to remember everything.

Personally, when I consider that the Cumbrian people were proven so valueless to the government of 1957 when they pushed the Windscales site past it’s safety levels in reckless pursuit of the hydrogen bomb. With the resulting fire almost being a nuclear explosion. AND that the workers of the Cumbrian Nuclear Industry were so utterly disrespected and dirtied upon at that time with the men who actually prevented the explosion being blamed for the disaster for ‘errors’ they made, I personally have no faith whatsoever that the attitude of the current government toward the Cumbrian people is any different today.
Our area is indeed deprived but I can’t see how the nuclear industry could want it any other way. If another industry were to flourish in West Cumbria and thus reduce the ‘Oliver Twist – please sir, can I have some more’ dependency on the handouts of that industry, people would logically become a lot less resigned to the presence of Sellafield and the political and social leverage of the nuclear industry in the area would, logically, decline. It’s my personal opinion the industry can not afford West Cumbria to be affluent.
Mr. Martin said it could be lonely having such responsibility and that a courageous decision could cost you your position.... He said we had to consider what future generations would think of that we decided now and hoped they would look back favourably. I believe his pure motivation in this decision was to do what he believed was the right thing.

I've got total respect for the man.
Spot on! The only thing that a nuclear dump would attract to Cumbria is more nuclear waste.
[quote][p][bold]Mary D[/bold] wrote: Once again I see name calling and yet precious little meritable argument against the decision. I too am just a concerned local person. I’m from Allerdale; one of the two Cumbrian Borough’s that initially were open to the possibility of siting a repository. I began to read about the proposals, what was said by the industry, the leading scientists, the local parishes, the workers and the other individual local people and groups formed in connection to it. I became so concerned I finally became one of the 40 or so members of the public who attended the County Council meeting yesterday and posed a question to the cabinet. I was witness to the speech by the leader of my County Council prior to the vote and, may I say, although I went into that meeting with a negative presumption of the outcome and for this a somewhat negative opinion of the Councillors, I have never witnessed a more balanced, courageous, astute and prudent act. Some points Mr Martin made; Although those in favour of Stage 4 reiterated the ‘right to withdraw’ from the process the government have still failed to legislate on this although there has been more than ample time and opportinity. Therefore there was no actual 'right to withdraw' in place. Although Cumbria does indeed perform a vital service to the rest of the country in that 70% of the country’s waste is stored here, as is the Sellafield plant situated here, but the area still has one of the worst infrastructures in the country and has huge depravation in the local community, which exists side by side to the multi-billion pound nuclear industry showing the true total lack of investment and gratitude to our area. The Councillors had repeatedly asked for the ‘benefit package’ to be clearly outlined. The government still failed to do this although they had ample time and opportunity. Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored. A referendum was taken on who would be our next police and crime commissioner but this issue is of immeasurably greater importance so Mr. Martin said that a referendum would have been the only correct way forward. Whatever the reason for it, the council kept being asked by Cumbrians why they were not even informed of the proposal. He said this was a failure and as such, again for democracy, is was not possible to support proceeding to Stage 4 at this time. He liked the Cumbrian landscape “just the way it is” and our National park and Areas of Natural Beauty were to be treasured. The possible damage to other Cumbrian industries, namely our largest industry, that of tourism, would be at substantial risk. Scientific opinion was that the area was unsuitable and the truth is that Cumbria is far from the first likely site for such suitability. Our science progresses constantly and our waste of today may be our fuel of tomorrow and deep disposal of it may be throwing away our assets. Following the findings of the National Audit Office report which criticised safety of the storage at Sellafield Mr. Martin said that the facilities above ground should be improved which would create jobs, allow the waste to be monitored closely, keep the possibility of future use available and still allow research and legislation for a repository should a suitable site be identified and so far unanswered questions about safety, be satisfied. (And I also say here that if the above ground storage has been allowed to so dangerously deteriorate then what faith could we have in maintenance of waste buried ‘out of sight out of mind’.) It was also pointed out (but I can’t remember by which councillor. I think Stewart Young, the Deputy Leader) that the impression that Stage 4 would lead to lots of jobs was false. Sellafield will possibly lose 2000 jobs over the next 5 years but Stage 4 might take 15 years and only employ 200 people, most of whom would be computer and geological specialists and therefore not likely to be West Cumbrian. This councillor said we need investment in new industry now and also that improvement to the now dangerous, above ground storage at Sellafield would work toward this. This is but a small selection of points made which were all equally valid and well considered. I await the minutes to remember everything. Personally, when I consider that the Cumbrian people were proven so valueless to the government of 1957 when they pushed the Windscales site past it’s safety levels in reckless pursuit of the hydrogen bomb. With the resulting fire almost being a nuclear explosion. AND that the workers of the Cumbrian Nuclear Industry were so utterly disrespected and dirtied upon at that time with the men who actually prevented the explosion being blamed for the disaster for ‘errors’ they made, I personally have no faith whatsoever that the attitude of the current government toward the Cumbrian people is any different today. Our area is indeed deprived but I can’t see how the nuclear industry could want it any other way. If another industry were to flourish in West Cumbria and thus reduce the ‘Oliver Twist – please sir, can I have some more’ dependency on the handouts of that industry, people would logically become a lot less resigned to the presence of Sellafield and the political and social leverage of the nuclear industry in the area would, logically, decline. It’s my personal opinion the industry can not afford West Cumbria to be affluent. Mr. Martin said it could be lonely having such responsibility and that a courageous decision could cost you your position.... He said we had to consider what future generations would think of that we decided now and hoped they would look back favourably. I believe his pure motivation in this decision was to do what he believed was the right thing. I've got total respect for the man.[/p][/quote]Spot on! The only thing that a nuclear dump would attract to Cumbria is more nuclear waste. marianneb
  • Score: 0

5:39am Fri 1 Feb 13

life cycle too says...

Yes - far better to keep it stored in ponds above ground - it will still keep coming to Cumbria!

It's not so long ago Marianne, since you were promoting the idea that Ennredale might struggle to keep up the supply of water, and you were accusing BNFL of abstracting more water than their license should allow.

What has happened to that scare story?
Yes - far better to keep it stored in ponds above ground - it will still keep coming to Cumbria! It's not so long ago Marianne, since you were promoting the idea that Ennredale might struggle to keep up the supply of water, and you were accusing BNFL of abstracting more water than their license should allow. What has happened to that scare story? life cycle too
  • Score: 0

11:50am Fri 1 Feb 13

Roger Cartwright says...

This is a really brave and good decision by Cumbria County Council.

Back in 2010 I asked if ‘darkness’ is being used to hide the truth and belittle questions that need to be asked.
Why were proposals for the underground disposal of nuclear waste in West Cumbria resurrected after what most people would regard as a final decision on 17th March 1997 (just prior to the General Election) when the then Secretary of State for the Environment, John Gummer, rejected Nirex’s planning application.
Gummer justified his refusal saying that he remains:
“… concerned about the scientific uncertainties and technical deficiencies in the proposals presented by Nirex about the process of site selection and the broader issue of the scope and adequacy of the environmental statement.”
In a letter to Nirex he said:
“… your company does not understand the regional hydrogeological system well enough.”
So, after over 15 years of work and an expenditure of around half a billion of taxpayer’s money, what has changed?
Could this be connected to the government’s decision to proceed with new nuclear development?
According to the Partnership website: “The process to find a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste and the search for a site for new nuclear power stations are entirely separate. The Government says that the main purpose of a facility would be to house existing higher activity radioactive wastes and a large amount of the radioactive waste that is earmarked for disposal in a geological disposal facility is already stored at Sellafield. However, the facility could house waste from any new power stations that may be built.”
Among many fundamental objections to new nuclear is the intractable problem of long-term waste disposal.
In 1997 the elusive search for a solution to the nuclear waste problem was back to square one.
Then a report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (known as the Flowers Report) raised the alarm. It stated that:
“… it would be morally wrong to commit future generations to the consequences of fission power on a massive scale unless it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that at least one method exists for the safe isolation of these wastes for the indefinite future.”
What is clear, however, is that a vital piece of the public consultation process is missing – the Government has failed to announce an end to the production of more nuclear waste, in fact the reverse is the case, they have continued with (the dodgy decision of the previous Labour administration) to proceed with up to ten new nuclear power stations!

That is still the real issue for future public consultation – possibly a referendum?
This is a really brave and good decision by Cumbria County Council. Back in 2010 I asked if ‘darkness’ is being used to hide the truth and belittle questions that need to be asked. Why were proposals for the underground disposal of nuclear waste in West Cumbria resurrected after what most people would regard as a final decision on 17th March 1997 (just prior to the General Election) when the then Secretary of State for the Environment, John Gummer, rejected Nirex’s planning application. Gummer justified his refusal saying that he remains: “… concerned about the scientific uncertainties and technical deficiencies in the proposals presented by Nirex [and] about the process of site selection and the broader issue of the scope and adequacy of the environmental statement.” In a letter to Nirex he said: “… your company does not understand the regional hydrogeological system well enough.” So, after over 15 years of work and an expenditure of around half a billion of taxpayer’s money, what has changed? Could this be connected to the government’s decision to proceed with new nuclear development? According to the Partnership website: “The process to find a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste and the search for a site for new nuclear power stations are entirely separate. The Government says that the main purpose of a facility would be to house existing higher activity radioactive wastes and a large amount of the radioactive waste that is earmarked for disposal in a geological disposal facility is already stored at Sellafield. However, the facility could house waste from any new power stations that may be built.” Among many fundamental objections to new nuclear is the intractable problem of long-term waste disposal. In 1997 the elusive search for a solution to the nuclear waste problem was back to square one. Then a report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (known as the Flowers Report) raised the alarm. It stated that: “… it would be morally wrong to commit future generations to the consequences of fission power on a massive scale unless it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that at least one method exists for the safe isolation of these wastes for the indefinite future.” [para 181, page 81] What is clear, however, is that a vital piece of the public consultation process is missing – the Government has failed to announce an end to the production of more nuclear waste, in fact the reverse is the case, they have continued with (the dodgy decision of the previous Labour administration) to proceed with up to ten new nuclear power stations! That is still the real issue for future public consultation – possibly a referendum? Roger Cartwright
  • Score: 0

7:16pm Fri 1 Feb 13

lakesailor says...

"Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored."

Democracy means that the majority opinion should prevail.
Was there really a majority against it?
That would be more than 20,000 in the National Park alone.
"Democracy meant that the Council had to withdraw as the people of Cumbria voiced many concerns and the numbers against proceeding were too large to be ignored." Democracy means that the majority opinion should prevail. Was there really a majority against it? That would be more than 20,000 in the National Park alone. lakesailor
  • Score: 0

6:21pm Sun 3 Feb 13

SteveBW says...

I think people have been misled about the dangers by those who are against any change.
Sellafield has been there for decades, as someone else has said, and it is low key with no effect on tourism whilst providing employment and contributing both to the local and National economy.
We need Nuclear Power to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Sellafield can and should be a major part of the Nuclear Power industry.
There is nothing to be afraid of. Other sources of power are far more dangerous: think of coal mining accidents, oil rig disasters and gas explosions. Take a look at the figures.
I think people have been misled about the dangers by those who are against any change. Sellafield has been there for decades, as someone else has said, and it is low key with no effect on tourism whilst providing employment and contributing both to the local and National economy. We need Nuclear Power to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Sellafield can and should be a major part of the Nuclear Power industry. There is nothing to be afraid of. Other sources of power are far more dangerous: think of coal mining accidents, oil rig disasters and gas explosions. Take a look at the figures. SteveBW
  • Score: 0

7:47pm Sun 3 Feb 13

marianneb says...

Sellafield stopped producing electricity in 2003. it uses over £30M of gas every year to cool the wastes, energy for the laundry etc. Also,uses 4million gallons+ of fresh water. A stoppage of either water or fossil fuel would mean catastrophe. new build would need a desalination plant on the west coast along with a new fossil fuel plant like the existing Fellside gas plant. Sustainable? nuclear is at the top of the polluting food chain...no contest.
Sellafield stopped producing electricity in 2003. it uses over £30M of gas every year to cool the wastes, energy for the laundry etc. Also,uses 4million gallons+ of fresh water. A stoppage of either water or fossil fuel would mean catastrophe. new build would need a desalination plant on the west coast along with a new fossil fuel plant like the existing Fellside gas plant. Sustainable? nuclear is at the top of the polluting food chain...no contest. marianneb
  • Score: 0

7:52pm Sun 3 Feb 13

twitchy says...

People have been informed about the dangers of building a repository in unsuitable geology, it isn't a rumour or a scare story it is a fact the Cumbrian geology is not suitable.
A 400 million pound study was carried out in the nineties, which included the geology and no suitable site was found.
Sellafield will no longer be a "low key" operation if a repository was to be built there.
There will be decades of work there to clean up the existing waste and prepare the waste to go to a SUITABLE repository site or to be contained at Sellafield.
Most people would prefer co2 emissions to radioactive gases.
True the dangers in fossil fuel extraction is very real and regrettable but it pales compared to the numbers and generations that would be affected if the radiation from a repository leaked.
It is untried,untested method of disposal, there are NO guarantees and Cumbrian people do not want to be "volunteered" as guinea pigs for the nuclear industry.
People have been informed about the dangers of building a repository in unsuitable geology, it isn't a rumour or a scare story it is a fact the Cumbrian geology is not suitable. A 400 million pound study was carried out in the nineties, which included the geology and no suitable site was found. Sellafield will no longer be a "low key" operation if a repository was to be built there. There will be decades of work there to clean up the existing waste and prepare the waste to go to a SUITABLE repository site or to be contained at Sellafield. Most people would prefer co2 emissions to radioactive gases. True the dangers in fossil fuel extraction is very real and regrettable but it pales compared to the numbers and generations that would be affected if the radiation from a repository leaked. It is untried,untested method of disposal, there are NO guarantees and Cumbrian people do not want to be "volunteered" as guinea pigs for the nuclear industry. twitchy
  • Score: 0

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