Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Nuclear Waste "Would Alarm Public"

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Government not dealing with Sellafield radioactive waste 'because it would alarm public', experts say

Nuclear experts have said the government is avoiding dealing with radioactive waste at Sellafield because doing so would alarm the public about nuclear new build.

Advisory group Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates (NWAA), made its claim today as it submitted evidence to a group of MPs examining government plans to support the building of a new fleet of nuclear power stations.

The written evidence submission from the independent group of nuclear experts is a damning indictment of the government’s assertion that it has made “effective arrangements” to manage the problem of nuclear waste disposal. The 34-page document concludes that current government policy is “not fit for purpose

Dr Rachel Western, lead author of the submission, said that too little was understood about the contamination levels of the waste from new reactors for the government to claim it had solved the problem.

She told PE: “The government is avoiding dealing with Sellafield here and now, because it really illustrates to the public how dangerous radioactive waste can be.

She said that risks included the possibility of a chemical “deflagration” occurring within existing waste stored at Sellafield, resulting in the uncontrolled emission of heat, flames, sparks and burning particles.

Following recommendations from the now defunct Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM), the government plans to build an underground geological repository to store the most dangerous nuclear waste. This will contain both waste from the next generation of nuclear plants and legacy waste from the past 50 years of power generation and nuclear research. However progress has been slow, with site selection a major barrier, and a long timescale for construction.

According to the NWAA submission, technical problems with the development of a repository are “legion”. Report contributor Dr David Lowry said concerns over the repository meant it would be difficult to establish an adequate safety case for nuclear new build, unless the rules were relaxed.

He said the British government should learn from attempts in the US to establish a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, which have been abandoned by the Obama Administration. “There the Americans decided they couldn’t meet safety standards,” he said.

“It’s time to be honest and for the government to say: ‘this is more complicated than we thought’, and open up a proper consultation with the public, rather than asserting that they have solved the problem.”

Dr Lowry said doubts over the viability of a repository could hold up the licensing of new reactor designs. Both US firm Westinghouse and French giant Areva are bidding to build new designs in the UK.

Concerns over plans to build new nuclear plants were voiced in November last year by several former members of CORWM. They warned that it was “irresponsible” for ministers to push ahead with nuclear new build without what they said was a “viable” plan to store nuclear waste from the reactors.

Sellafield said that spent fuel from around the world had been “safely stored for many decades”. It said: “The waste arising from current reprocessing operations is treated within a few months and converted into a stable glass form within stainless steel containment for low level wastes.

“These are extremely stable and suitable for longer-term surface storage or future geological disposal.

Sellafield added that “historic” wastes arising from nuclear programmes during the Cold War presented “additional challenges”. “These challenges are well understood and appropriate measures are in place to safely retrieve these wastes and convert them to stable forms.”

© PE Publishing, 20 January 2010

1 comment:

  1. Regarding Dr. David Lowry's statement that "the Americans decided they couldn’t meet safety standards" at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility...

    Dr. Lowry couldn't be further from the truth.

    In fact, due to heavy political pressure from one United States senator, Harry Reid, the Obama administration took review of the Yucca Mountain license off the table -- before the review could even be conducted.

    It’s entirely possible scientists would conclude that Yucca Mountain is the wrong site, but they will never get the chance if funding for the project's license application is cut off at the knees.


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