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     Scottish CND     magazine

Nuclear Waste Dumping

Despite the recent announcement that Sellafield had been ruled out as the proposed site for a national nuclear waste repository, the possibility that NIREX will direct its sights to the far north of Scotland (Dounreay-Altnabreac) has received scant attention during the election campaign. Yet this could be one of the most important issues ever to face Scotland and the Highlands in particular. It has always been believed by anti nuclear groups that Caithness was the preferred site for a nuclear waste dump. Only the tremendous cost of the movement of 1.5 million cubic metres of radioactive nuclear waste to the far north of Scotland had caused NIREX to examine a local site first.

Of this waste it is often overlooked that at least 20% comes from the nuclear weapons programme. Sellafield has of course imported huge quantities of spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors the world over, for the lucrative business of reprocessing, which as an end product increases the volume of nuclear waste by a factor of 16. Shamefully, not one spoonful of this obnoxious material has been returned to the country of origin: for the simple reason that the supplier has nowhere to put it! It will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

Creating a nuclear waste dump at Dounreay would be a much bigger undertaking than the Channel Tunnel. The simple logistics are mind boggling. To bring the waste north the whole length of Scotland would require 100 lorries and 15 trains per week for around the next 50 years. Imagine that occurring every day through the snows of winter and on the busy A9 in the height of the tourist season. (Not that the tourist trade would survive very long). Statistically it has been calculated that a crash involving radioactive nuclear waste would occur as frequently as once per fortnight.

At least there now would seen to be consistent opposition to a nuclear waste dump throughout Scotland. (Though what the reaction of the new Labour Government would be to such a proposal is an unknown quantity). The people of Caithness voted 3 to 1 against a nuclear waste dump in a public referendum and the former Highland Regional Council refused planning permission for NIREX to conduct test boring at Dounreay. Whilst this decision was quickly overturned by the then Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, the battlelines were quickly drawn up.

This would seem an appropriate time for members of CND to brief themselves on the whole issue of radioactive nuclear waste dumping so that we can be ready at a moments notice to inform the public should the horrifying prospect of a nuclear waste dump raise its head

John Jappy Dornoch CND Scottish CND      magazine