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Tuesday, August 4, 1998 Published at 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK


Reactor issue splits community

Snowdonia National Park: Fear of radiation from redundant reactors

A nuclear power station will be bricked up for more than a century, and its lagoon turned into a water sports centre, under controversial plans.

British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) wants to "mothball" Trawsfynydd power station, which is located at the heart of Snowdonia National Park.

The process will involve building a safe store around the remains of the magnox reactor.

[ image: Some feel the once contaminated lake should not be used as a leisure facility]
Some feel the once contaminated lake should not be used as a leisure facility
Future generations will then dismantle the presently dangerous core. By this time experts predict levels of radioactivity will be much lower and therefore less harmful.

But some residents and anti-nuclear activists are angry that nuclear waste will be left in the area.

And they say that plans to use the former cooling lagoon - which has in the past been contaminated with radiation - are irresponsible.

Hugh Richard of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance said: "It is in my view criminally irresponsible to use Trawsfynydd Lake as a leisure facility and at the same time to discharge radioactive waste into it and to use it as a radioactive lagoon."

500 job losses

Hill farmers in the region are still suffering the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster.

Some residents are worried about how the decommissioning of Trawsfynydd will affect the local environment.

But BNFL says there is no alternative - disposal facilities for intermediate radioactive waste simply do not exist.

Superintendent Inspector of the decommissioning team, David Mason, said: "It makes technical sense to allow the radioactivity in the reactor core to die away.

"If we were to press for the reactors to be decommissioned earlier, it begs the question of how the waste would be disposed of.

"At the moment there aren't any facilities for the disposal of intermediate waste."

Other residents in the village which counted more than 500 job losses when the station closed in 1993, welcome the proposals.

Angler Derek Calcott already fishes for trout in the lake and says he has no qualms about continuing to do so.

Gareth Thomas, who used to manage the station's visitor centre, and now heads a project to revitalise the area, said: "There are reports coming out every year from the Welsh Office and the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food about the levels of radiation in the lake.

"They say it is quite safe, so the community is starting to get fed up with people from outside jumping on the bandwagon, telling us it's unsafe."

The plans, which are due for consideration this week, do not need formal planning permission.

But if enough people raise concerns about their neighbour for the next 135 years, there could yet be a public inquiry.

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