The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has submitted today its response to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) consultations on its Draft Strategy 2016 – 2021 and its Draft Business Plan 2016 – 2019. (1)
The NDA Draft Strategy sums up its key priorities for the next five years in the decommissioning of nuclear reactors and the safe management of radioactive waste. The Business Plan explains what resources it will spend on each priority. NDA was awarded a budget of £3 billion in the latest Government Spending Review, but is expected to make £1 billion in ‘efficiency savings’ by 2020.
In its submission, NFLA raise continuing concerns over NDA strategies that are increasingly moving towards a ‘dilute and dispersal’ policy of radioactive waste management instead of ‘concentrate and contain’ policies. This is leading to more radioactive waste being spread into the environment by diverting it to landfill sites, discharging into estuaries, seas and atmosphere using dissolution plants, metal recycling plants and incinerators – masquerading as what is called the environmentally-friendly sounding ‘waste hierarchy’.
NFLA undertakes all its consideration towards nuclear waste management according to a clear set of sound and internationally recognised environmental principles.
NFLA make six key points to the NDA’s Draft Strategy:
- Nuclear Waste Management should be conducted according to such a clear set of environmental principles. In particular radioactive and toxic substances should be concentrated and contained rather than diluted and dispersed, and should be managed in accordance with the proximity principle.
- The way in which the NDA is applying the waste hierarchy to radioactive waste is not compatible with environmental principles and results in the dilution and dispersal of waste into the sea; around landfill sites; and into the atmosphere via incineration and metal recycling.
- Whilst the NFLA has no objection to re-visiting the timing of Magnox reactor dismantling in the light of recent advances in robotics, this should be demonstrated through the prism of an agreed set of environmental principles, not because new opportunities for spreading waste across the country have arisen.
- Although both reprocessing plants at Sellafield are due to close in the next five years every opportunity to end the method of diluting and dispersing waste in the Irish Sea should be taken as soon as possible.
- All methods of re-using plutonium, thus keeping weapons-useable material in circulation, should be dropped in favour of immobilising this material.
- NFLA calls on the NDA to review the necessity and utility of transports of radioactive materials by road, rail and sea and to avoid them wherever it is practical to do so.
- The NDA needs to improve its stakeholder engagement with NGOs and the NFLA, and review the membership and remit of site stakeholder groups.
NFLA also calls on the NDA to outline in much greater detail how it will undertake £1 billion in ‘efficiency savings’ amidst concerns that this could negatively impact on its core activities.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
The NFLA is concerned that the NDA is moving ever more to policies which are diluting and dispersing radioactive materials into the environment. I am disappointed that the NDA has not changed its mind on such matters since its previous consultation in November 2015. NDA needs to engage with all constituencies, not just those that are supportive within the nuclear industry. Though I welcome resources for the NDA being maintained by the Government, the sheer size of £1 billion in efficiency savings concerns me that key decommissioning and waste management milestones may be delayed.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing No.61, 8th February 2016