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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Sellafield's nuclear waste storage is "unacceptable"
The European Union has told the UK government and British Nuclear Fuels that the situation regarding the UK's storage of military + civilian nuclear waste at Sellafield is "unacceptable" and must be addressed within 3 months if stiff penalties are to be avoided.

The Commission is demanding that a plan of action be prepared by June 1st and, that after this date, six monthly reports must be produced on the implementation of the plan.

Inspectors have been granted access to Sellafield since 1991, but are unhappy that some of the contents of storage "ponds" (used to keep waste cool and reduce the amount of radiation that workers are exposured to) cannot be identified or inspected properly, and the EU now wants effective action to be taken to change this, without any further delay or excuses...

In 2001, the Irish, who share the area of sea used by the British to dump Tc-99 waste - which cannot be safely stored and has a half life of 211,000 years - protested about practices at Sellafield under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

They almost certainly have a valid point as the respected Norwegian NGO, Bellona, says that scientists have measured an alarming increase in levels of radioactive techetium-99, in sea weed + shell-fish since 1994, when Sellafield dramatically increased its discharges of the compound to the Irish Sea. While, in 2002, the UK's own Royal Society delivered a damning indictment of successive governments and the nuclear industry, accusing them of neglecting the "serious and urgent" problem of disposal...

The Royal Society also estimated that it may cost £85 billion to deal with existing waste, and argued that today's problems are more serious than currently acknowledged + that the current waste management regime falls short of that which could be achieved through the use of currently available technologies!