Councils to store nuclear waste in return for cash

Juliette Jowit, environment editor The Observer, Sunday June 8 2008

Councils will be asked to store nuclear waste in deep underground vaults in return for government investment in jobs, road improvements and health screening, under plans to be announced this week.

Copeland council in Cumbria confirmed it was planning to put its name forward, a move seen as inevitable because most of the temporary waste is stored at the Sellafield reprocessing plant and the industry accounts for more than half of jobs in the area.

Elaine Woodburn, the council’s Labour leader, said that if a safe site was found and there was community support, it would ask the government for an ‘endowment’ for the community. ‘A repository [would] be here for thousands of years. We can’t ask for projects that will last 50 or 100 years because that would be a disservice to future generations,’ said Woodburn. ‘But the most important thing is making sure it could safely be located here.’

Last year, David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Glasgow, said the area around Sellafield had ‘no suitable rocks’ for nuclear storage. However, the British Geological Survey, which will assess all suggested sites, said that latest research suggested that 40 to 60 per cent of Britain was suitable to store reactor waste, including much of the area around Sellafield.

The policy of storing radioactive residue in deep geological burial chambers and asking councils to volunteer sites was proposed by the government’s committee on radioactive waste management and backed by a public consultation. Ministers plan to publish their long-awaited white paper on nuclear waste detailing these proposals on Thursday.

Somethings happening here today
A show of strength with your boy’s brigade and,
I’m so happy and you’re so kind
You want more money – of course I don’t mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes

And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society’s got –
I’m going underground – the jam