Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News and other Busyness

Surprise Dump Decision Throws Nuclear Industry Into Turmoil

Gummer refuses go-ahead for waste dump in Cumbria

Squall 15, Summer 1997, pg. 13.

PERMISSION for an undergound nuclear-waste dump in the Lake District was refused by then Environment Secretary John Gummer in March - possibly spelling the end for Nuclear Power.

It is the first time any application for planning permission has been refused the nuclear power industry.

Nirex, the state owned company which dumps nuclear waste, had wanted to build a one-thousand foot underground waste dump at the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria at a cost of £2 billion.

They had already spent £200 million formalising the plan.

A leaked memo before the judgement showed senior Nirex staff were not convinced of the safety of their own plan. A key concern was the geology of the area, and whether water passing through the dump would find its way back to the surface.

Gummer refused the plan because he was concerned about the "scientific uncertainties".

The decision means nuclear waste will have to be stored above ground for at least the next 30 years. It would have taken Nirex 15 years to build the dump had the six month inquiry gone their way.

Without anywhere to store nuclear waste a limit on the amount of waste that can be produced is immediately established - potentially a major threat to the future of the nuclear industry.