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Fears Over Nuclear Waste Dump Being Washed Away

BRITISH Nuclear Group may be stopped from burying more low-level nuclear waste at Drigg in West Cumbria. umbria County Council is worried that rising

sea levels could wash the site away – perhaps within 500 years. And it says nobody is sure what radioactive material has been buried there.

Councillors are being asked to block any planning applications to expand Drigg until these concerns are satisfied. A Report from the council’s environmental planning manager, John Hetherington, quotes Environment Agency findings that the site is at risk from rising sea levels caused by global warming. The agency says: “The destruction of the depository by coastal erosion means that disposal of long-lived low-level waste might be creating undue burdens for future generations.” Mr Hetherington also says that, in the early years of its operation, record keeping at Drigg was “inadequate”. From the Fifties until the Eighties, waste was buried in open trenches.

The Report says: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that wastes inappropriate for disposal as short-term low-level waste are present. Remediation of [radioactive] hot spots may be needed if new disposals are to be authorised.”

Drigg is Britain’s only low-level radioactive waste dump. It takes material not only from Sellafield and the nuclear industry but from hospitals, universities and defence establishments.

British Nuclear Group, which runs the site, wants to open new storage vaults to increase capacity.The state-owned company argues that the threat from rising sea levels has been over stated. It wants to continue using Drigg until 2050.