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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Public meeting will debate Cumbrian dump fears

Fears that picturesque Ennerdale Valley could be tested as a possible site for a radioactive nuclear waste dump will be aired at a public meeting next week.

Concern is growing that drilling and blasting could take place on Ennerdale Fell to see if the rock is suitable for an underground repository.

Senior councillors on Cumbria County Council and Copeland and Allerdale Councils will decide on January 30 whether or not to look for a possible location in Cumbria

In the meantime community representatives at Ennerdale, Lamplugh and Kinniside fear that their area might face geological investigations.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has denied there were any current plans for Ennerdale or anywhere else in west Cumbria.

In a statement the NDA said: “It is completely untrue to suggest that borehole drilling or any other type of geological investigation relating to a geological disposal facility is currently planned for Ennerdale, or indeed any other part of Cumbria.

“It is also incorrect to suggest that any site in West Cumbria has so far been identified as a potential location for a geological disposal facility (GDF).

“Cumbria is currently at Stage 3 of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process which involves a community consultation on whether to proceed to stage 4. If councillors vote in January to move to Stage 4 then further studies of the geology of West Cumbria would be carried out in order to identify technically suitable sites for a GDF.

“If the communities then decide to proceed to Stage 5 those identified sites would be subject to detailed investigations including boreholes in order to decide which potential site if any is suitable for a GDF.”

Organisers of Monday’s public meeting fear that future proposals will include:

A new access road the full length of the valley and onward to link with the main trunk road system for the substantial movement of people and equipment needed for the test drilling

Test drilling on Ennerdale Fell to test the suitability of the underlying rock to store nuclear waste

Extensive explosive charges to create the seismic map of the rock

An exclusion zone probably for more than a year with no public access to parts of the valley resulting in the re-routing of the Wainwright coast-to-coast walk and limiting the use of the valley as a recreation destination

But Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn strongly disputes the claims. She said: “Ennerdale has not been identified as a site for test drilling or any part of the MRWS process. In fact no site has yet been identified in any report.”

“The meeting would seem to be jumping the gun and scaremongering in the extreme.”

One of the organisers, Peter Maher, said: “We are given to believe there will be geological surveys of Ennerdale Fell with boreholes and blasting to create a map of the underlying rock structure. This alone is likely to spoil the wild landscapes of the Ennerdale Valley, one of the gems of the Lake District.

“It is likely to mean new or widened access roads the length of the valley, new office buildings and storage depot at the head of the lake and then some access to get men and equipment to the top of Ennerdale Fell.”

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