The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) submits today its views on the future development of the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). NFLA’s main comment to the consultation is that CoRWM needs to become more independent than its current membership is, and that it needs to follow the Swedish example in advising on a more open and transparent process for the radioactive waste management policies of the UK Government and the Devolved Governments in Scotland and Wales. (1)
The NFLA submission is to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Triennial Review of CoRWM to ensure that it receives regular independent challenge. (1) CoRWM was established in 2006 to provide independent scrutiny and advice to the UK Government and the Devolved Governments on the long-term management of higher activity radioactive wastes.
The key points of the NFLA submission to the Review are:
- It is essential that CoRWM’s remit is strengthened to make absolutely clear that its role of scrutinising “proposals, plans and programmes to deliver geological disposal” is NOT to assist in the implementation of the Government’s programme but is to guard against any unscientific practices in the research programme.
- CoRWM’s remit should make clear that it also needs to guard against ‘confirmation bias’ which “results in a situation where, once a view has been formed, new evidence is generally made to fit”.
- CoRWM should not just be carrying out scrutiny of radioactive waste management issues “on behalf of the public”. It should also be facilitating access to independent expertise which would work for the public. If the public and stakeholders are to be properly engaged in these issues it needs access to funds which it can use to pay for independent expert advice.
- An excellent example can be found in Sweden, where MKG is an environmental NGO primarily funded by the Swedish Nuclear Waste Fund, which all radioactive waste producers contribute towards. MKG seeks to represent an unbiased voice of reason in a debate where a specific method of disposing our nuclear waste is being presented as a definitive solution.
- MKG’s funding model represents a useful model for the UK in trying to develop a fully open and transparent consultative process for nuclear waste management.
- CoRWM needs to be made more independent, not less. It needs to include a wider range of views and expertise than it currently holds.
- CoRWM urgently needs its own independent website – the most recent report on its website dates back to July 2014.
NFLA Chair Councillor Mark Hackett said:
NFLA supported the development of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management in 2006, and the first CoRWM Committee was reasonably representative of a wide range of opinion on radioactive waste management. NFLA is concerned that is not as much the case now, and it calls on Government to make CoRWM more independent and include more critical voices within it. It also calls for a new, fully open and transparent process in considering strategies for dealing with higher activity radioactive waste, with Sweden as an appropriate model to consider. It is also disgraceful to NFLA that CoRWM’s website has not been updated for over six months now – this needs to be rectified urgently.”
For more information on this media release please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244 / 07771 930196 or Pete Roche, NFLA Scotland Policy Advisor on 0131 444 1445.
Notes for editors:
(1) The NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing with its comments on the CORWM Triennial Review is attached with this media release.