Green Party in England & Wales
Nuclear Waste: 'Let's bury the bodies'
The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has today
published its final recommendations for dealing with the UK's
radioactive waste - advocating burying it deep underground, after
decades of 'interim storage' to allow for intensified research to
address 'uncertainties.' (1)
Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: "The UK has
been creating radioactive waste for 50 years, and today's report
shows that we still don't know what to do with it. Quite simply, they
have decided out of sight, out of mind is the best option. The term
disposal is misleading - it would be more honest to talk about
disguising the problem through burying the bodies.
"Nuclear waste must be stored in above ground facilities to allow
easy access for when things go wrong - and to ensure close
monitoring. Burying toxic waste deep in the earth is not a
sustainable or predictable route to follow.
He also highlighted the impact the committees findings would have on
the government's enthusiasm for a new generation of nuclear power
"It is ludicrous to embark on a new round of nuclear power build
whilst we are still stumped with what to do with the present 47 000
tonnes of dangerous radioactive material our current nuclear power
stations will produce. How many 'host communities' will the
government need to buy off in the future - 'providing the community
with a package of measures to support participation' - to deal with
the ever increasing mountains of radioactive waste they plan to
create in the future?
"Presumably this is why the government were so careful to complete
their enegy review BEFORE CoRWM had reported - the committees failure
to find a 'solution' to the dangerous problem of nuclear waste, with
only exorbitantly expensive 'management' proposals to offer, would
have silenced many of the advocates of a new generation of dirty,
dangerous and uneconomic power stations. (2)
"CorRWM have not provided a solution, because there are none that
provide any certainty of safety and containment. The committee's
findings will be seized as a way forward by the nuclear lobby, when
the only guaranteed things they offer is continuing liability and risk.
"For the future, the best way of dealing with nuclear waste is not to
create it in the first place."
The key elements of the recommendations are:
- In the long term, disposal of radioactive waste deep underground,
an option known as geological disposal.
- Robust interim storage, in recognition of the fact that the process
leading to the creation of suitable facilities for disposal may take
- An equal partnership between government and potential host
communities based on a willingness to participate
- The immediate creation of an oversight body to begin the process of