Last weeks letter in the Whitehaven News by Tim Knowles hits the nail on the head repeatedly. All the more remarkable given that Mr Knowles was the Chair of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership ( MRWS) as executive member for the environment at Cumbria County Council. Since that time MRWS has dropped the "Safely" to become Radioactive Waste Management.
This is what Tim Knowles says:
……in 2022 the future for Copeland continues to be inextricably linked to the nuclear industry, but unfortunately the balance of power between the NDA/Sellafield and our democratically elected representatives has tilted badly against us.
After wasting hundreds of millions on a half baked scheme to let mainly US contractors run things, the NDA was forced to change tack to save money, improve performance and deal with what regulators called “an intolerable risk.” Now most of its operations are part of a public sector bureaucracy which has abandoned reprocessing, begging the question what was so wrong with BNFL.
One money saving idea, perhaps inspired by the Treasury, was to take our local authorities to court in order to claw back millions in allegedly overpaid business rates. No one can really explain the justificiation for this, but it put Copeland Borough Council seriously in debt to the NDA. That is one of the reasons for the council’s near bankruptcy.
CBC now seems to rely on the NDA, its subsidiaries and suppliers for a good deal - look at the Bus Station cafe/offices, the promised Whittles revamp and the pub in Egremont, all small projects led by an organisation called BEC funded with nuclear money but claimed by our Mayor as CBC successes. It is also not clear how many people working at CBC have all or part of their income funded by the NDA.
After the failure to deliver a new nuclear power plant, a new electricity grid, the Whitehaven eastern relief road, a hotel on the harbour, office blocks on the harbour car parks and other things, what are we actually going to get in 2022? Well if NDA/CBC have anything to do with it I believe we are rushing towards a massive “dump and forget” deep geological nuclear waste repository as a resting place for lots of unreprocessed , heat generating fuel rods.
Well if no one else wants it and even if the community benefits are peanuts, some people think it’s better than nothing- but do the rest of us?