BNFL told to find solution to future pollution
Cumbria's beaches could become a no-go zone in 500 years time if nothing is done to stop erosion unleashing almost one million cubic metres of radioactive waste.Though there may be a very long time to come up with a solution, the threat of low-level nuclear waste oozing out of the soil-covered trenches in years to come is real enough for the Environment Agency to insist BNFL do something about the situation.
The agency has said that BNFL, which already faces prosecution for a recent leak at the Thorp fuel reprocessing site, must follow up one or more of a range of possible solutions, each of which has drawbacks.
It could stop any more nuclear waste of certain types being buried at the Drigg site, meaning it would need a new location to dispose of it.
Or it could create more space by removing some of the waste, though this would also be awkward as the waste which would need removing is buried under 20 years' worth of more recent low grade material.
The third option is to build a ticker concert cap for the trenches to resist erosion for longer and the final option is for BNFL to agree to manage the site for the next 300 years, rather than the 150 currently proposed.
Should the waste ever leak from the site there would be a one in ten thousand chance of residents living nearby dying from the radiation, a risk one hundred times greater then the current target.
By Sam Bond