UK returns to grappling with toxic nuclear waste dilemma. Two communities in north-west England asked to consider hosting sites to bury radioactive material. In recent weeks the UK government has invited residents from two communities in north-west England to a “virtual exhibition” to gauge their views on whether they would be prepared to solve one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the country: what to do with more than half a century’s worth of toxic nuclear waste. The boroughs of Allerdale and Copeland in Cumbria are considering whether to become host to an underground storage facility for the most radioactive by-products of the country’s nuclear industry. The process, which is designed to give local residents the final say, is run by the state-owned Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Like other countries with nuclear industries, the UK government has been grappling with the issue of long-term storage for several decades. This marks the fourth attempt to find a site to bury radioactive waste at depths of up to 1km underground. But local opponents are outraged. The plans are “like a dog going back to its sick”, said Marianne Birkby, who lives 25 miles from Sellafield and runs Radiation Free Lakeland, which campaigned against the facility last time. Reluctance to host such a facility is not unique to the UK. “The reality is nowhere in the world is there [yet] a functioning deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel,” said Dr Paul Dorfman of University College London’s Energy Institute. The search for a site is key to the government’s plans for nuclear power — one of its 10 flagship green policies — according to nuclear experts. “My personal position is I don’t think we should have any new nuclear power stations until we have a [long-term] disposal strategy in place,” said Corkhill.
FT 9th Feb 2021 read more »