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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 08:46 GMT
Inquiry into nuclear plant's future
Trawsfynydd nuclear power station
BNFL wants to build a storage facility for nuclear waste at Trawsfynydd
A public inquiry is to open into the long-term future of the decommissioned Trawsfynydd nuclear power station in Snowdonia.

The British Nuclear Fuels power station has been closed for nine years and is currently being demolished, but BNFL wants to build a storage facility for intermediate level radioactive waste on the site.

Opponents of the scheme are concerned that radioactive waste could be stored on the site near Dolgellau for up to 100 years, and they are arguing for the whole station to be dismantled.


Developments like this are only allowed to go ahead in national parks if there are no alternatives

Ruth Chambers, Council for National Parks

The inquiry, which opens in the village of Penrhyndaedraeth on Tuesday, will last four weeks before the planning inspector reports back to a Welsh Assembly planning decision committee.

As well as building the safe-store for intermediate level waste, BNFL wants to reduce the height of the reactor building.

Opposition

Groups including the Council for National Parks, Snowdonia Society, Welsh Anti Nuclear Alliance and CND Cymru, are opposed to BNFL's plans in their present form.

The Council for National Parks(CNP) says BNFL's current option would rule out dismantling the plant early should the UK government build a national depository for intermediate level waste.

There are currently national deposits for high and low-level waste and one for intermediate level waste is expected to be built in the next 40 years.

"Developments like this are only allowed to go ahead in national parks if there are no alternatives", said Ruth Chambers, of CNP.

"The waste should leave Snowdonia when a national safe-store gets built and this should be a condition of any planning permission.

"We must protect the integrity of Snowdonia National Park, one of Wales' greatest jewels - the Trawsfynydd site must be cleared at the earliest opportunity".

'Safest option'

But Keith Spooner, from BNFL, said the option of building a storage facility at Trawsfynydd was the safest way of storing the waste until a national depository is built.

He added: "There is no national depository for radioactive material at present, so we have to store it safely on site."

The decommissioned Trawsfynydd power station is the only one of BNFL's reactors not built on the coast.

Instead, its water supplies were provided by a lake set in the Snowdonia National Park.

The plant stopped producing electricity in 1991 and the final closure announcement came in 1993.

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