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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Council debates nuclear waste dump proposals

A DEBATE will take place today over plans for west Cumbria to host an underground nuclear dump.

Cumbria County Council’s full council will consult on whether the area should continue to take part in the Government’s search to house the repository.

However, the final decision will not be made until October 11 when the county council along with Allerdale and Copeland councils say yes or no to going forward to the next stage.

If they do agree to take the next step, the Government will conduct more detailed geological surveys, looking for potential sites in the county.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said that the search for a suitable site could take about 15 years.

During this time, local authorities have the right to withdraw while the process is ongoing.

Members are expected to give their opinions on the pros and cons at today’s meeting, in Kendal, as well as discussing questions raised by members of the public.

All county councillors will have a chance to vote on making a recommendation to the council’s cabinet.

The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, which included representatives of the councils and other community bodies, has been investigating the possibility of west Cumbria hosting a high-level nuclear waste repository., 2.47 sq miles in size, over the past four years.

So far, about 25 per cent of west Cumbria has already been ruled out as unsuitable for an underground nuclear waste dump, the report said, and more work would be needed before it would be known if any of the rest of the area would be able to host the site.

The partnership has consulted with around 2,300 individuals and organisations before preparing their final report, which is what today’s debate will focus on.

If all three councils agree to continue in the search, the Department of Energy and Climate Change would need to formally agree to the process continuing.

The next stage would involve detailed desktop studies of the area’s geology which could take up to five years.

After that would come physical geological testing of potentially suitable sites, which could take 10 years.

The three councils were the only ones in the UK to express an interest in the Government project.

JBarwise@cngroup.co.uk

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