Kept secret for over 15 years, the list identifies sites throughout the country once thought of as suitable for disposing of the hazardous radioactive substances. This is the first time it has been made public.

The publication of the list was welcomed by NuLeaf – the nuclear legacy advisory forum – who said that the Freedom of Information Act and Nirex’s commitment to open and transparent engagement meant it was no longer feasible to maintain secrecy.

Councillor Geoff Blackwell, Chair of NuLeaf, said: “We do appreciate that the release of this list now might raise concerns in the local communities being named, and this is why we have worked with Nirex to ensure that the release of the list was properly explained and that every local community was provided with explanatory information.”

However, the organisation did nothing to assuage fears when it pointed out that, although the list is mainly historic in nature, some locations could be considered again in a new siting process depending on how the UK nuclear waste legacy is managed in future.

Nirex said the geology in the UK has not changed so sites that were previously considered suitable could be considered suitable again.

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said it was a disgrace that the location of the sites had been kept secret for so long. “Every community named on this list should take steps to help halt plans to expand nuclear power in the UK. The best way to begin dealing with the UK’s nuclear waste legacy starts with halting the production of any more.”

According to Nirex there are over 92,000 cubic metres of high, medium and low-level waste in storage at 34 locations around the UK. This is set to rise in volume five times over the next hundred years, even if no nuclear stations are built.

The Committee on Radioactive waste Management (CORWM) is currently consulting on plans for long term management of radioactive waste.

By David Hopkins

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