Councils and locals condemn Lillyhall nuclear waste disposal decision
Councils in Cumbria have condemned the decision by the Environment Agency to grant Lillyhall landfill a permit to treat low level radioactive waste.
The Waste Recycling Group (WRG) and partners Energy Solutions were given the go ahead under the Government’s 2007 Policy for the Long Term Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste.
Allerdale Borough Council, Cumbria County Council and Copeland Borough Council all object to the plans, which they say have not had to demonstrate that the sites are the ‘Best Practicable Environmental Option’ in regulatory terms and have raised objections from local residents.
In a letter to energy minister Charles Hendry, the councils question the legitimacy of the decision on this basis.
Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for the environment, Councillor Tim Knowles said: “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated at this short-sighted decision which may have significant implications for future waste policy issues.
“Local opinions have not been factored into this decision by the Environment Agency to allow this waste to be disposed of at Lillyhall.
“Although the material involved has a very low level of radioactive activity and does not present a public risk, the waste should be dealt with and disposed of as close as possible to the site where it has arisen.”
In 2009 Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet produced a report as a result of a consultation launched by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on their proposed national strategy for the management of solid low level radioactive waste (LLW).
The report concluded that LLW produced at Sellafield should be disposed on or near the site and not further afield in other sites in West Cumbria.
They want to see proper consideration of on-site disposal at nuclear facilities and an emphasis on improved waste management including waste avoidance, minimisation, re-use and treatment to reduce the amount of waste needing final disposal.
The council also raised concerns about the environmental impact of high levels of traffic resulting from the transport of the waste between the nuclear facility and Lilllyhall.
Councillor Knowles said: “My fear is that this decision opens up the market for this waste to disposed of at wherever offers the best deal on costs, rather than factoring in the wider environmental and economic concerns.
“Cumbria is an area where there is a good level of local knowledge and appreciation about nuclear developments, but this development risks impacting on public perception and may also impact on support for other nuclear programmes.”