Sellafield clean-up means another blank cheque for the nuclear industry

Posted by Richardg — 7 November 2012 at 12:32pm - Comments
A nuclear power plant at night

The cost of dealing with the UK's nuclear waste has risen by almost a billion pounds in just 12 months. It's yet another reason why we shouldn't build any new nuclear reactors.

There are several reasons why Greenpeace opposes nuclear power and the problem of nuclear waste is one of the hardest to resolve. The nuclear industry has never been able clean up after itself; the shambles at Sellafield is just the latest example.

Sellafield is the UK's largest and most hazardous nuclear site, with 27 Olympic swimming pools worth of nuclear wastes. The cost of decomissioning the site has spiralled out of control and the operators have no idea how much it will cost or how long it will take to sort out.

The National Audit Office, which has studied the decomissioning plans in detail, said the situation was "dire" and that it posed "intolerable risks to people and the environment".

Two years ago, the government confessed that sorting our nuclear wastes would cost an extra £4 billion. The cost of cleaning up after Sellafield has gone up by a further £900 million - and there is no end in sight.

It's one thing to keep forking out buckets of cash to clean up the wastes we already have - given how dangerous it is, the government doesn't really have any other option. What would be utter madness would be to make any more of the stuff. Yet that's exactly what the nuclear lobby wants us to do.

Before the last election, David Cameron pledged that there would be no new reactors until we had a plan for the wastes. The Sellafield shambles shows why the government has no option but to cancel plans for new nuclear power stations and get to work building us a future powered by clean, renewable energy.

Hi anonymous,

If there are any innacuracies in the article, would you mind identifying them? I'm just working from the NAO report, which was unambigously damning of the clean up operation, its management and the cost control frameworks designed to stop budgets spiralling out of control.

I should have linked to the main report: here it is.

I don't disagree that Sellafield and its wastes pose a real risk to the environment, of course - which is why I think building more reactors (and producing more wastes) is a terribad idea.

Follow Greenpeace UK