More cracks appearing in nuclear waste plans

Posted by jamie — 26 August 2008 at 3:41pm - Comments

Some unsettling news appeared in the Independent over the weekend, which revealed that an Environment Agency report has said that containers at Sellafield (where most of the UK's waste is stored) may not be as stable as was thought. The document effectively destroys Britain's already shaky disposal plans just as ministers are preparing an expansion of nuclear power.

It shows that many containers storing this radioactive waste are made of second-rate materials, handled carelessly, and are liable to corrode. Through a combination of slip-shod management and lacklustre construction, 40 per cent of the containers are expected to fail, quite possibly before a long-term storage area can be built and sealed. And according to present plans, that may not happen for around 500 years. More details on Nuclear Reaction.

And speaking of waste, there's an interesting interview on the website of energy and metals information broker with the guy who used to head up the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). In it, Professor Gordon MacKerron (now director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex) airs his doubts over many aspects of the government's nuclear fetish.

Significantly, he suggests that ministers are getting muddled when figuring out what to do with nuclear waste: there's the stuff that already exists and needs dealing with, and then there's the stuff that will be produced by any new power stations. As there's currently no solution to disposing of radioactive waste anywhere in the world, mixing up the two quite separate issues (MacKerron says) just makes it a lot more complicated - an issue being deliberately ignored by our government which is attempting to justify its pro-nuclear agenda.

Watch the interview to hear what else McKerron has to say about new nuclear power stations (you may need to dig around in the archive if they've published another interview in the meantime).

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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