We’re all at risk from a ‘mobile Chernobyl’
IN HIS article on the burial of nuclear waste in ‘an atomic dustbin’, the Mail’s environment correspondent Colin Fernandez writes: ‘To provide an incentive to hosting the dumping ground, the selected area will be given between £1 million and £2.5 million a year for community projects.’ Though this financial offer by the Government has been dismissed as a bribe by campaigners in communities that fear they may be chosen, it would provide a measure of compensation. But ministers have refused to offer similar danger money to communities along the possibly extensive transport routes from the current location of the radioactive waste, to a facility where it would be processed, and then on to the deep underground disposal facility. Before Christmas, the Government released a 40-page summary of responses to the consultation Working With Communities: Implementing Geological Disposal. I was one of 118 respondents to this consultation last year. While public engagement is a good practice, listening to the views expressed and altering draft policy as a result is better practice. However, my experience suggests that this rarely happens in radioactive waste consultations, and when it does the changes are minimal. Sadly, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has followed the same old policy of ignoring any responses containing inconvenient ideas and proposals. It asserts: ‘The Government does not agree that the potential host community should extend beyond those directly affected by the impacts. We believe it is fair that only those that are directly impacted should have a say.’ The only transport links to be taken into account will be the short distance from the burial site to the nearest port, railhead or primary road network. In the U.S., community campaigners concerned about the risk of radioactive waste being transported by road or rail close to homes, hospitals and schools have dubbed these dangerous transports a ‘mobile Chernobyl’. The British Government surely needs to reconsider its definition of endangered communities.
Dr DAVID LOWRY, Cambridge, Massachusetts. THE proposal to bury waste highlights nuclear energy is a complete disaster. Digging holes and dumping nuclear waste is incredibly expensive and dangerous. We have had protests about fracking, but its risks pale into insignificance compared with the danger of burying nuclear waste. With the cost of building nuclear plants, getting rid of the waste generated and then the 30 years needed to decommission plants, surely any energy alternative is better than nuclear.