Amount of nuclear waste kept secret

BRITISH Energy is refusing to reveal the amount of high level radioactive waste stored at the Sizewell B nuclear power station for “reasons of security”.

BRITISH Energy is refusing to reveal the amount of high level radioactive waste stored at the Sizewell B nuclear power station for “reasons of security”.

It has previously refused, for the same reason, to discuss the risk to the public posed by the presence of the waste, which is contained in spent uranium fuel elements stored under water on site.

The request for information on the amount of high level waste on site was made at the last meeting of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) - set up to try to improve liaison between the local community and the nuclear site and its official watchdog agencies.

Brian Dowds, Sizewell B station director, states in a written reply that he can reassure SSG members that the amount of spent fuel stored at Sizewell B is “considerably less than the thousands of tonnes quoted by Charles Barnett of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign”.

He added: “However, the exact figure is not in the public domain and for reasons of security it is felt that it is prudent not to release the figure.”

Mr Dowds said nuclear reactors used a relatively small amount of fuel, especially compared with fossil fuels such as coal.

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But Mr Barnett said: “He is not responding to real community concerns. Why doesn't he tell us what is being stored at Sizewell B and the danger involved?”

Pete Wilkinson, an independent Suffolk-based environment consultant who is a former member of the Government committee on radioactive waste, has failed to persuade British Energy to reveal details of the risk to the local community of an accident or terrorist strike involving the spent fuel store.