Lies, Damned Lies, and Survey Statistics…Rather like government consultations and inquiries, surveys carried out for government projects are frequently designed to give a particular outcome. They will likely be presented as a test of public opinion, but often that bears little resemblance to reality – they are actually intended to validate a predetermined government position. Cumbria Trust discovered a few weeks ago that one such survey has been conducted on behalf of Allerdale GDF Working Group to measure public support for burying the UK’s nuclear waste in Allerdale in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). We were initially given a small extract from it which happened to show that most respondents supported the policy of burying nuclear waste in a GDF. More surprisingly we were told they even support a local GDF, close to where they lived, but by a narrower margin. We asked to see the detail of the survey, and to their credit, the following week, this was made available to us. What we found within the survey was less encouraging. The questions had clearly been constructed to lead the respondents to give the desired answer. Before asking respondents whether they supported burying nuclear waste, they asked how they understand it is currently stored. The two relevant options were ‘it is stored at ground level’ and ‘it’s held in multibarrier vaults deep underground’. The difference in these two descriptions is illuminating. The following question compounds this when asking where we should dispose of radioactive waste. The two relevant options are ‘Continuing to store radioactive waste above ground / near surface’ and ‘Disposing of radioactive waste at a UK site in vaults and chambers hundreds of metres underground’. This is clearly constructed to get the answer that we should be burying nuclear waste in a GDF, with 55% choosing this, despite most having little or no understanding of the issue. The questions are designed to give a particular answer – to demonstrate public support for a GDF.
Cumbria Trust 2nd July 2021 read more »
RWM has updated its records of the quantities and types of waste that are designated for geological disposal. The Inventory for Geological Disposal (IGD) is based on the latest UK Radioactive Waste Inventory (UK RWI), which is published every 3 years by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The UK RWI covers every kind of radioactive waste produced in the country, ranging from the lightly contaminated to the longer-lived, more hazardous materials. A Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) is required for the longer-lived, more hazardous kinds of radioactive wastes. By volume, these represent a small proportion of the materials listed in the UK RWI (less than 10%) but contain the highest levels of radioactivity.
RWM 1st July 2021 read more »