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A Letter to the "Working Groups".Withdraw from the Corrupt, Dangerous Nuclear Dump Plan

Dear Allerdale and Copeland Working Groups,

I would be very grateful if this email could be brought to the attention of all members of the Allerdale and Copeland Working Groups.


Last Friday 18th June 2021 Radiation Free Lakeland met with local people living next to Millom Deer Park/Ghyll Scuar Quarry. Most had not heard that the Quarry had been put forward by a Sellafield manager as a candidate site for the entrance to a Geological Disposal Facility.

Aggregate Industries who have a lease on the Quarry until 2045 have had nothing to do with the proposal that their quarry site (which has been a good, if dusty and noisy, neighbour to local people for many years and looked after the adjoining ancient woodland ) should end up being the above surface facilities for a deep nuclear dump for the most dangerous and long lived wastes known to man.

All the people we spoke to locally are incredulous and angry that Radioactive Waste Management should even consider the southernmost tip of Copeland which is as near to Morecambe as it is to Sellafield as a candidate site for a GDF entrance.


Equally there is astonishment that the few people on the Allerdale and Copeland “Working Groups” are claiming to speak for the whole of Cumbria not to mention Cumbria’s neighbours across the Irish Sea, the Duddon Estuary and Morecambe Bay - all of which would be impacted by the plan for a GDF. Cumbria has already said no repeatedly to the plan, the geology has not changed, the science of containment is still unresolved. We believe the “Working Groups” are looking to move to the next stage of “Community Partnership” - what “Community” are they representing ? Does that “Community” know that intentional burial and designed leakage of heat generating nuclear wastes/gases ( “up to” 100 degrees C ) under the sea is in breach of a number of international treaties?


The push for Geological Disposal is more about politics than “doing the right thing” as the “Working Groups” tag line so falsely claims. Dr David Lowry has pointed out that : “The need for a GDF has never been properly demonstrated by Government or its promoters. As one (long term pro-nuclear) contributor put it at the BEIS London consultation meeting on 22 February 2018 put it pithily: This is a totally unnecessary ostrich performance. There is no demonstrable need, just a policy desire. It was suggested by the same contributor that the GDF plan was more about retaining a productive economy for the nuclear sector, as others aspects, such as new construction have slowed due to continuing financial and technical problems.”


The incredible suggestion of Scuar Ghyll Quarry indicates just how far removed from reality the “Working Groups/Radioactive Waste Management GDF plan is and we wonder if the working groups are aware that this is the area which was so vehemently against the Moorside pylons precisely because of the landscape, historic and amenity value of the area. Friends of the Lake District have put forward a call to Government that the Southern edge of Copeland which includes the quarry should be added to the Lake District National Park. The National Park boundary is of course just a line on the map, Beatrix Potter who bought farms nearby in the Duddon valley would not have made any distinction at all between this area and the National Park - it would all have been “The Lake District.”


The image featured on the “Working Groups” illustration of above ground facilities is blandly optimistic and does not paint a true picture of the bleak reality of the proposed 100 year+ operation. Ongoing movement of (still unresolved) containers of high level nuclear wastes would turn a historically, culturally and environmentally important rural site on the edge of the Lake District into a full blown nuclear licensed site with all that entails, the razor wire, the ‘sterile zone,’ the nuclear police the hundreds of thousands of lorry loads of nuclear materials, the rock spoil (which would itself be radon rich from being extracted so deep beneath the ground).

As nuclear specialist Dr David Lowry has pointed out “ if the Government of the day were to have to implement the full evacuation of the contents of the GDF from their subterranean emplacement for safety reasons, including packages containing nuclear explosive fissile materials such as plutonium..This would amount to the operationalisation of the reversing of the emplacement decisions and retrieval of the radioactive waste, which effectively is the reassurance given to any community that volunteers to be a host: if safety procedures go identifiably wrong underground, the danger can be mitigated by removing the waste. But to do so, an above ground secure and safe temporary storage facility would have to be built in preparation of such a retrieval procedure. It may not have exactly the same size above ground footprint as the subterranean tunnels, but it would be very substantially bigger than the above ground GDF workings. However, no illustration of any such above ground emergency store is ever shown in the material published by the promoters of the GDF.”


Radiation Free Lakeland are mindful that the CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride, who has had gushing support from the Mayor and the MP for Copeland for his controversial coal mine (adjacent to the GDF Irish Sea plan) was appointed in 2019 by Government to advise Radioactive Waste Management, who in turn advise the Working Groups. Radiation Free Lakeland’s, Lakes Against Nuclear Dump campaign, has seen a thesis from Manchester University which outlines Mark Kirkbride’s cost estimates to Government for digging the big hole. This appointment of Mark Kirkbride as advisor on costings is a means to present a GDF as a fait accompli, a done deal, a Government plan in order to continue with producing new and even hotter wastes.


We have written to the Prime Minister asking for a Moratorium on the “Implementation of Geological Disposal.” The science to contain the wastes into eternity is immature, as are the costings to dig a big hole under the Irish Sea. Eye watering though the costings are, they represent a mindset that puts the lowest possible price on the health of Cumbria and our neighbours.

Costings by Mark Kirkbride: “Appendix B: Cost of disposal facility excavation The following costs were sent by Mark Kirkbride (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)) as example excavation costs, from which the excavation costs per scenario in Chapter 6 were derived. These costs do not include operation, handling or disposal.

B.1. Facility assumptions

Facility assumptions made for Kirkbride’s example calculations are:

- Facility depth 1000 m - Hard host rock (e.g. granitic)

- Access infrastructure of two vertical shafts, one decline/drift tunnel These assumptions are similar to those specified for the UK disposal facility (Radioactive Waste Management, 2016a) and Swedish disposal facility (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB, 2019). B.2. Fixed costs Fixed costs are dependent on the facility assumptions but will remain largely the same regardless of facility footprint. Two shafts sunk using Herrenknecht shaft boring roadheader machines (Herrenknecht, 2020a). Shafts should average 8 m diameter and be concrete lined. Price per m is quoted for fully lined and equipped. “ Total Cost £1.7 BILLION - just for the hole.

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign. We urge the “Working Groups” to actually “do the right thing” and withdraw from the corrupt dangerous and most likely illegal plan to “Implement Geological Disposal.”

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Lakes Against Nuclear Dump, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

CC Tim Farron MP, Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council



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