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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 10:50 GMT
Fresh rumpus over Dounreay waste
Dounreay Nuclear Power Plant
Objections have been raised over plans to move nuclear waste
Councillors from England who are fighting a switch of nuclear waste from Dounreay to Cumbria are visiting the Caithness plant.

Members of Cumbria County Council have objected to the move, which is backed by the reprocessing plant's regulators.

Low level radioactive waste is being caused by the operation to decommission the site, where waste dumps are full.

The objectors from Cumbria are arguing that rubbish generated at the complex should stay where it is.

Regulators have said there is no alternative to exporting the low grade material - estimated at a lorry-load per week - to the national waste depository at Drigg, near Sellafield.

We feel that low level nuclear waste should stay where it is until policy issues have been resolved
Tim Knowles
Cumbria County Council

The move has been supported by green watchdogs, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa).

New dumps at Dounreay are not expected to be complete for another six years.

But bosses have insisted they are confident they will eventually be able to deal with the 100,000 cubic metres of new radioactive rubbish caused by decommissioning the nuclear power plant.

It is feared that moving waste may cause environmental problems
Boss Norman Harrison said: "By using the right processes here, we're actually minimising the amount of low level waste that's produced.

"It's part of how we want to engage with the county councillors to get their sign-on for this interim period when - to keep our processes flowing - it would be appropriate to export some low level waste down to Drigg."

But delegation member, councillor Tim Knowles, replied: "We're not very happy about it to be honest. There is clearly a problem.

"We feel that low level nuclear waste should stay where it is until policy issues have been resolved. The government's reviewing the low level waste issue, with a report coming out next year."

He added: "We really can't see the urgency and we don't want to be in a position where the ultimate destination of this material is pre-judged.

"I think we tend to be seen as the central location to deal with all these problems. We've got 60% of the UK's waste, therefore we've got the problems associated with that. We don't want to be taken for granted."

Environmental objection

Councillor Knowles added: "It's all right for Sepa to say that they support it, but they don't have to deal with political issues arising from transport - either at this end, in the areas that are going to be affected and at the destination site at Drigg.

"I think there's a lot more water to flow under the bridge."

He was supported by anti-nuclear campaigner Peter Roach, who added: "It might be setting a precedent for other types of waste which are currently on the site at Dounreay.

"It's also going to fill up the facility at Dounreay much more quickly than is necessary."

He went on: "That's going to mean that other low level waste later on will have to find a home, which might be far more difficult than finding a home for the low level waste at Dounreay."

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