Cumbria County Council: "Dump the Nuke Dump"

Tagged as: environmentalism free_spaces social_struggles
Neighbourhoods: cumbria ireland uk world

This wednesday 5th Sept, Cumbria County Council will be asked to "slam the door shut" on the nuke dump plans for Cumbria.  Radiation Free Lakeland and others will be speaking at the last Council meeting before the decision is made to continue on the toxic slide to a nuclear sacrifice zone. The proposals are for the worlds largest nuclear dump under wild Ennerdale or towns and villages in Allerdale.


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17 years ago Cumbria County Council strongly and successfully opposed the government plan to use Cumbria as a purpose built geological dumping ground for intermediate level nuclear wastes.  In 2008, in a U turn, prompted by the promise of meaningless compensation, the Council has abandoned its protective stance and stepped along the government path towards a geological dumping ground under Cumbria.  This time the plan includes high-level nuclear wastes, is much bigger and much more dangerous.

South Lakeland District Council and well over 75% of Parish and Town Councils agree with Cumbria County Council’s original stance which was to protect this land and this people. 

From Hawkshead‘s  “zero tolerance”  to Beckermet’s “no further” the County Council's first duty of care is to its Parishes, NOT to the government agenda for dispersal of nuclear wastes into the environment. No amount of ‘compensation’ will protect Cumbria.

County Councillors have already been denied a free vote.  The much publicised “expression of interest” was taken on 9th Dec 2008 by less than a handful of people in the Cabinet  (all  Labour, the Cons and Lib Dems refused to take their seats in the new Cabinet).  That handful of people trustingly said  “ we have a duty and obligation to be involved in the process”. 

The ironically named Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process has one destination and in 17 years, 2029, the government plan unopposed will come to awful fruition and there will be huge hole, deeper than Scafell is high, bigger than the City of Carlisle, ripped into the heart of Cumbria. There will be increasingly dangerous above ground nuclear sprawl and Cumbria’s wonderfully diverse and faulted geology will be replaced with ever increasing quantities of nuclear waste, the kind of stuff that nightmares are made of.

The only protection from this is to slam the door shut and firmly oppose as the Council did in 1995/6 when the plan did not include high level waste and was much smaller.

In a kind of Gordon Gekko “Science never Sleeps, Safety is for Wimps” attitude the UK government are pressing for geological dumping of high level and other nuclear wastes under Cumbria. Nowhere in the world has done this.  The Science Council of the most technologically advanced nation on earth, Japan is saying that geological disposal plans should be scrapped and that waste should be kept at or near ground level for centuries if need be.  The Americans have abandoned the plan for deep burial at Yucca Mountain following the State of Nevada’s opposition:

 “I am proud that after over two decades of fighting the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, the project is finally being terminated.  The proposal to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain threatened the health and safety of Nevadans and people across our nation. Yucca Mountain, which is 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is simply not a safe or secure site to store nuclear waste for any period of time.”   United States Senator for Nevada Harry Reid. 

 The plan for Cumbria is to increase the high level nuclear waste footprint from a small portion of the existing 6km Sellafield site to one or more geological dumps, in an as yet unspecified place, a staggering 25km square and 1000m deep.

The MRWS geologist Dr Jeremy Dearlove has said that potential sites in Cumbria are the Mercia Mudstone Group (MMG) in the Allerdale area or Eskdale and Ennerdale Granites.  

While the Allerdale Mercia Mudstone is populated with towns and villages, much of the land in Ennerdale is government owned. The Lake District National Park, so far, are going along with the burial of high level nuclear wastes under the Lake District as long as the above ground nuclear sprawl is not seen from the National Park.  Of the above ground facilities the Environment Agency (whose role is merely to regulate rather than question government legislation) says:

 “The facility is designed to be able to store one week’s worth of packages above ground if for whatever reason the Geological Disposal Facility became unavailable. However, the public and worker doses that may be obtained from a prolonged shutdown have not been calculated. Assessed public doses were based on the assumption that the worst case will be 12 wagons in the siding during transit. The trailer park also has a capacity for up to 26 trailers. The assessment assumes these will not contribute significantly to public doses because they are transitory. We can envisage a scenario where this may not be the case, during a prolonged shutdown of the underground facilities, and we think that the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate should consider the potential public and worker dose from these.”

 Radiation Free Lakeland ask all members of the County Council:   “Will you protect Cumbria and slam the door shut on the government plan to turn Cumbria into the worlds largest nuclear dump ….Will you protect Cumbria and put forward a motion here today to withdraw from the government’s MRWS process?


Cumbria County Council Opposition to Intermediate Level Nuclear Waste Dump 1995/6

Hawkshead “zero tolerance” to nuclear dump

“Parishes Roar” No

Science Council of Japan advises scrapping geological disposal plans


Yucca Mountain- State of Nevada


Eskdale/Ennerdale Granite – correspondence between MRWS and Professor Stuart Haszeldine on MRWS 285 geology: FWS Consultants 18 June 2012


Forest Commission Ennerdale


Environment Agency Report 2011  Regulatory review of the generic disposal system safety case

Pangea – largely sponsored by the British Government in search for a high level nuclear waste geological disposal in Australia following the Nirex refusal.

There are no purpose built operational high level waste geological dumps like the one proposed for Cumbria – this is an experiment.<!--EndFragment-->



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