Search

Nuclear waste transport fear

PUBLISHED: 16:06 15 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010

NEW government moves to address the handling of nuclear waste have raised fears over the transportation of radioactive material through Suffolk.

Trainloads of nuclear waste from power stations at Sizewell pass through the county on its way to be reprocessed or disposed of elsewhere in the country.

NEW government moves to address the handling of nuclear waste have raised fears over the transportation of radioactive material through Suffolk.

Trainloads of nuclear waste from power stations at Sizewell pass through the county on its way to be reprocessed or disposed of elsewhere in the country.

Now councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council are preparing to discuss the implications of living in the backyard of a key part of the UK's nuclear industry with a consultation document on safely managing solid radioactive waste.

Environmental campaigners living in the area have seized the opportunity to remind them of the potential dangers faced by residents.

"The main concern has always been that waste from Sizewell gets dragged through the middle of the district," said Green Party activist John Matthissen, of Mendlesham.

"The Irish government are currently trying to take our government to the European court to stop putting this stuff into the Irish Sea but now it is a question of handling it carefully in a place where it can be managed and monitored safely."

Leiston resident Peter Lanyon, who is a member of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said that the train's controversial cargo was vulnerable to accident, derailment or even terrorist attack, adding that the freight often stopped in the heavily built-up Ranelagh Road area of Ipswich.

But he supported one of Mid Suffolk's recommendations in its response to the paper calling for the debate on the future of the industry to be hosted by independent bodies - and not British Nuclear Fuel Ltd, the company that runs the Sizewell plant, or the government.

"Sizewell is the least worse place to put these things and the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign would do everything possible to shoulder its reponsibility," he said.

"We don't want the situation solved by government but by public consultation in which we plan to play our part. It's got to be dealt with and we can't have the waste shunted off to the Third World.

"We should deal with it instead of leaving it for our descendents because it is our responsibility."

BNFL was quick to defend its reputation on safety.

"We have been transporting this type of material for nearly 40 years without any incident or relase of radioactivity," said Peter O'Brien, spokesman for the rail freight contractor Direct Rail Services Ltd, which transports the spent fuel on behalf of BNFL.

"We are not complacent as no one is more tightly regulated than both the rail industry and the nuclear industry."

Faced rising amounts of radioactive waste over the next century and beyond, the council report suggests that decisions over its disposal should not be made in terms of short term costs.

Up to 500,000 tonnes of waste will have been produced by the end of the working lives of the power stations already built.

In October, announcements by British Energy saying the company hoped to build a further 10 new nuclear plants in the UK met with strong criticism. Sites earmarked include Sizewell and Bradwell in Essex.

Opponents say that government money should be invested in "green'" renewable energy technologies which use sources such as wind and tides.

Full discussion of the consultation document is due to take place at a meeting the council's executive committee on Monday, February 25.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the prospect of a new nuclear power station being built at Sizewell is still alive following a government report.

A long awaited study into the nation's energy needs has refused to close the door on the nuclear industry.

It means British Energy's hopes of building new power stations at the likes of Sizewell and Bradwell in Essex could still be pursued.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists