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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nuclear dump row hots up

OF course a repository would bring jobs – but not that many, writes Dr Ruth Balogh.

AS someone born and raised in Copeland, as someone who is proud to have worked in the nuclear industry and as a Member of Parliament, I have been involved with the issue of radioactive waste management for almost 20 years – more than any other MP, writes Jamie Reed.

In Parliament, I have worked closely with successive governments to achieve the nuclear renaissance that Britain, Copeland and Cumbria urgently needs.

Improved radioactive waste management – for the benefit of the environment, West Cumbria and the nation – is an essential part of this renaissance.

Cumbria stands to benefit hugely, in a genuinely unprecedented fashion, should a geological disposal facility ever be sited here.

But let me make it categorically clear that if the geology of the area is not suitable to host such a facility, then no such facility will be constructed. This is why I support moving to stage four of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process.

The growing strength of the Cumbria and Lake District brands have accompanied the development of the nuclear industry in Cumbria for the past 60 years.

Local service industries stand to lose significantly from a contracting national economy, but nothing from local authorities moving to stage four.

The nuclear industry and tourism can and does flourish in tandem in France, as well as elsewhere (the Rhone valley, for example) and historic areas of nuclear activity can develop and prosper exponentially.

California’s Silicon Valley – the template for the energy coast – is proof of this.

I’m a third generation Sellafield worker. My grandfather’s generation didn’t know that there was a problem with radioactive waste management.

My father’s generation knew there was a problem but didn’t solve it.

My generation knows there is a problem, knows how to solve it and knows the consequences of failing to solve it.

With this knowledge comes a moral imperative. I choose not to leave this problem for my children; passing the buck is morally indefensible.

This is why I support Cumbria County Council’s existing public policy of pursuing a GDF.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Agency estimates the average annual workload at 437 per year for 10 years of surface investigations, then 838 over the 15 years of construction, and 565 over the 100 years of operation.

On the other hand, nearly everyone agrees there’s a threat to other industries, especially tourism, leisure, food and agriculture.

The image of the Lake District as clean and green could be irrevocably damaged by a massive construction site with large spoil heaps and a nuclear waste dump.

The national park authority is against it. The government recognises this by providing Cumbria with £500,000 for a “brand protection strategy”. But would this work? Construction in an unsuitable location could spell disaster for other sectors.

It’s true that the package of “community benefits” which would come with a dump could create some jobs. But the price would be even greater dependence on the nuclear industry.

Some believe a dump would bring a new nuclear reactor here. Certainly the Nuclear Influencing Group of councillors, officials and industrialists thought so.

Minutes from their meeting in January 2008 show they thought a dump here would be their trump card in getting a new reactor to this area – otherwise considered unpromising with main energy demand in southern England.

Economic prosperity for Cumbria doesn’t lie in the uncertain prospect of such jobs in the far-off future. Nor in loss-making projects like the Sellafield Mox plant, which has wasted an estimated £1.3bn of taxpayers’ money and the proposed new one which has no customers for Mox fuel.

The National Audit Office report shows that the nuclear industry should be creating jobs now to make waste already at Sellafield safer for us all.

We want a vibrant sustainable economy for Cumbria with reduced dependence on the nuclear industry, making the most of the Lake District’s clean and green image.

There are far less expensive ways to create jobs, and we intend to show how this can be achieved.

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