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Cumbrian landfill site may be licensed for radioactive waste

A landfill site at Lillyhall, near Workington, looks set to have its life extended until 2029 and be licensed to accept low-level radioactive waste.

The centre already has a permit to receive “high volume very low level waste”.

But operator FCC Environment intends to apply to the Environment Agency for it to receive “low-level waste”, which is more radioactive.

The Joseph Noble Road site has been in use since 1976 but the existing planning consent expires this year.

FCC is asking Cumbria County Council for permission to continue until 2029.

It argues that the introduction of the Landfill Tax and higher recycling rates mean the landfill has not filled up as quickly as expected.

The company calculates there is 1.4 million cubic metres of unused capacity.

Councillors are expected to approve the planning application when they meet in Kendal on Wednesday.

But they are likely to impose a condition restricting the level of radioactive contamination to 200 becquerels per gram of waste, which is 50 times more radioactive than the maximum allowed now.

Even then, FCC would have to apply to the Environment Agency for a permit.

The planning officers’ report, which recommends granting planning permission, says: “There have been no significant adverse impacts identified in the proposed development and the proposed continuation of landfilling.

“Conditions are recommended that would control the level of radioactive waste deposited and also the volumes of waste deposited.”

Most of this waste is likely to come from Sellafield and would otherwise go the low-level waste repository at Drigg.

It could include construction and demolition material, redundant plant and equipment, soil, disposable protective clothing, packaging materials, and lightly contaminated general waste. This would be put into sealed drums or containers.

The planning officers’ report adds: “The site lies in relatively close proximity to Sellafield and it is close to the highway network.

“The deposit of the material at Lillyhall ensures that it is disposed of to a licensed site, close to the source of origin and [so] reduces waste miles.

“There are no material considerations to indicate that the development should not be granted.”

The council has received three objections expressing concerns about Cumbria becoming a “nuclear dumping ground”.

And Copeland Council says that FCC’s public consultation on the proposals was “inherently flawed”.

FCC says it notified 1,700 homes and businesses about an exhibition, which was attended by 48 people.

Have your say

What Cumbrian Lad isn't saying is that the levels he quotes (without evidence I might add)), equates to less than half the K-40 dose we receive annually, just from natural potassium in the body. Bequerels are also a poor indicator for doseage, preferred terminology is the sievert.

To put it into perspective, here's a list of comparable sievert doses (all at the same scale, µSv, to avoid confusion):

0.1 : 1 Banana
10 : Average daily background radiation
40 : Flight from NYC to LA
250 : Yearly release limit for a nuclear plant
400 : Mammogram
1000 : 2 weeks inside Fukishima Exclusion Zone
4000 : Average annual background radiation
7000 : Chest CT scan
50,000 : Annual dose limit for a radiation worker
100,000 : Lowest annual dose linked to increased cancer risk
400,000 : Dose over short period causing radiation sickness
2,000,000 : Usually fatal dose (survivable with treatment)
8,000,000: Fatal in all cases

As you can see, the doses involved are far below that which could cause harm and even below background levels for most people.

Check your facts. Know the science.

Posted by Dagsannr on 27 January 2014 at 08:04

I thought the Lillyhall tip was already an radioactive dumping ground (Sellafields £750,00 fine) and 'Observer' obviously knows little about radiation - 200 Bq/g normal background radiation, where? Chenoble?

Posted by Tip Rat on 26 January 2014 at 11:50

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