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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Concerns over nuclear waste plans
Dounreay
Dounreay is expected to be one of the favoured sites for waste
Environmentalists in Scotland have criticised a key interim recommendation from a government advisory committee on nuclear waste disposal.

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management said that the UK's nuclear waste should be buried several hundred metres underground.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland warned that leaks from buried waste could go unnoticed.

WWF Scotland said the proposals should be treated with caution.

Green light

The first minister said the Scottish Executive would only consider building a new nuclear power station north of the border if the waste issue was resolved.

Nora Radcliffe, environment spokeswoman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "This report must not be seen as giving a green light to new nuclear build in Scotland.

"Whatever the committee finally proposes, we must protect Scotland from becoming the dumping ground for the UK's radioactive waste."

Although the draft document does not name potential sites where the waste could be buried, it is expected that Dounreay will be a likely option.

If we have one single store we would have to transport large quantities of nuclear waste round the country
Duncan McLaren
Friends of the Earth Scotland

The waste management committee - which will make its final recommendations to the UK Government in July - favoured the deep burial option, although the government will have the final say.

However, FoE Scotland's chief executive Duncan McLaren said: "It (nuclear waste) tends to get treated as out of sight, out of mind and if it starts leaking, which it inevitably will if it's left there, then it's less likely that we will take the remedial action that's necessary.

"And if we have one single store we would have to transport large quantities of nuclear waste round the country and that's probably the most risky part of the operation when it comes to the issue and concern of terrorism."

Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said: "Today's report cannot be used as an excuse by the government to rush to build a new round of nuclear power stations.

'Enormous challenges'

"It clearly does not provide a 'solution' to the waste issue, only the first step towards finding the least-bad option for the stuff we've already got.

"No doubt the nuclear industry will jump up and down and say that this is the solution to the nuclear waste problem. Jack McConnell must not make the same mistake."

Mike Weir, the SNP's environment spokesman in the House of Commons, said that the nationalists would oppose any attempts to store nuclear waste in Scotland.

Shiona Baird, the Scottish Greens' energy spokeswoman said the "enormous challenges" in managing nuclear waste typified the unsustainability of nuclear power.

A spokesman for the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) said: "We would welcome a decision fairly soon, but one that was subject to extensive public consultation."


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