Today it has been announced that a GDF Working Group has been formed in Copeland, West Cumbria, to start local engagement on whether Copeland could be a suitable location to host a GDF for the UK’s higher activity wastes. In line with Government policy, this is the first stage of the siting process and enables the start of a conversation within the community and with the developer Radioactive Waste Management (RWM). The Working Group will engage with citizens across the community to begin to understand their views and to to identify and propose a Search Area for consideration by RWM. The remit of the Working Group also covers the recruitment of the Partnership that will ultimately progress the initiative with RWM. So far the Working Group comprises representatives from three “Interested Parties”, an independent Chair (Mike Cullinan) , independent facilitator, Copeland Borough Council and RWM. The Interested Parties are not named in the Working Group’s launch press release but are described on the RWM web story as individuals and organisations who initially asked RWM to consider whether a GDF could be located in the area.
Barlow Geosafety 4th Nov 2020 read more »
This letter was submitted to three local newspapers in Cumbria on 5 November 2020: Your article on the announcement that Copeland Council has formed a so-called ‘Working Group to initiate explorations in the area to find out the possibilities of developing an underground Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for high activity, very long lived radioactive waste (“Copeland nuclear storage facility to create thousands of jobs” NW Evening Mail, 4th November 2020; https://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/18843622.copeland-nuclear-storage-facility-create-thousands-jobs/) is illustrated by an artist’s impression of what such a GDF might look like, taken from the promotional brochure recently released by Radioactive Waste Management Limited, the body given responsibility to manage the UK’s significant stockpile of radioactive waste. This illustration is highly misleading, and people in Copeland community should be aware of this fact as they begin their local assessment of whether they really welcome such a radiotoxic burden to where they live. The reason it is misleading, is it shows a vast subterranean complex of access tunnels and storage caverns below ground, but only very small above ground set of building, which would comprise the transport receipt terminal, the nuclear waste package transfer building, some administrative offices and the entry to the tunnels used to deliver the waste packages to the point of emplacement deep underground. This facility will remain open for least 100 years, as it receives a continuing stream of radioactive waste packages. Ministers have repeatedly reassured concerned citizens that were any significant accident or leakage of radioactivity event to take place underground, they could order the complete retrieval of the stockpiled waste packages, to ensure the subterranean water table is not contaminated. Were such a retrieval to take place, there would need to be in place an above ground storage building capable to storing the entire inventory of waste packages removed from the giant repository. Look as hard as you like, you will see no such building in the RWML illustration. The above ground building footprint will inevitable be far larger than the very small – and highly misleading- illustrated set of GDF buildings. When plans come forward, local people should demand to know where retrieved radioactive packages will be safely and securely stored above ground, should the repository need to be evacuated of its toxic contents.
David Lowry’s Blog 6th Nov 2020 read more »