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Radiation Free Lakeland Letter to Yorkshire Councillors - "Withdraw from Nuclear Dump Plans"

Letter sent today to all the councillors of East Riding, Yorkshire.

Dear Councillor of East Riding,

At your full meeting on 21st February 2024 I believe a motion is being put forward for withdrawal from the expression of interest  by East Riding Council’s inward investment arm to start a “conversation” with residents about building a geological waste disposal facility for high level nuclear wastes.


Radiation Free Lakeland are a voluntary group in Cumbria. Our Facebook group has almost 1000 members and a recent petition against investigations for GDF generated over 55,000 signatures.  We are running two campaigns currently: Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and Lakes Against Nuclear Dump.

RFL have been pushing back against a GDF here since 2008  Many of our members were also active in the push back against NIREX (forerunner of NWS) in the 1ate 1990s. 

We fully support the motion for withdrawal and would urge East Riding Councillors to look at the experience in Cumbria. 


In the 1990s the GDF plan was limited to low and intermediate level wastes for abandonment deep underground.  A public inquiry in Cumbria with many scientists and geologists arguing against the “Rock Characterisation Facility”  found that the low/intermediate level wastes would breach containment and percolate to the surface far sooner than NIREX had accounted for. The NIREX inspectors report can be seen here.’s_report_complete.pdf

In breathtaking mission creep the UKs failed GDF plan now includes High Level Wastes which would be extremely hot at 100 degrees c or more.  The hot wastes are currently cooled by Britain’s Favorite View -Wastwater, along with water from the rivers Ehen, Calder and other water sources amounting to millions of gallons every day.  The reason the GDF would be so huge is to try and allow heat from widely spaced waste containers to dissipate into the surrounding rocks.   Despite optimistic assurances about safety, this has never been done anywhere in the world.  It is all a big experiment to dig a very big hole (or holes – new nuclear build/waste would require up to three GDFs),  bury the waste and forget about it into millennia.  

The former Leader of Cumbria County Council Eddie Martin, sadly no longer with us,  put it very well in his speech to Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet in January 2013 at which CCC decided to withdraw from the ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely’ process (now NWS) : ” Young children and radioactive materials need supervision. Like a child, like you and me, an energetic radioactive molecule will become less energetic as it ages but for some molecules it will take many, many ages…Like a two year old, radioactive waste can get into everything: water, soil, plants and animals.”  Eddie Martin’s full speech to Cabinet can be seen here


East Riding’s point of contact with NWS “Head of Siting” is Steve Reece.  Mr Reece was formerly Operations Director for West Cumbria Mining.  On his watch many deep boreholes of over 500m were drilled through the geology in the Whitehaven area and flushed with water at 240 liters per second in an area riddled with old mines to ‘test the hydrology’ for the UKs first deep coal mine in 30 years.  Those 4000 metres of exploratory boreholes may have in part or in whole been responsible for the environmental catastrophe now unfolding in Whitehaven.  Polluted old mine water has been pouring into the harbour for over year now with no end in sight.  The fragile honeycomb of old mines dating back to medieval times has been breached and no one is taking responsibility with the Coal Authority even initially saying it was not minewater pouring into the harbour. Now no-one disputes the pollution is from old mine water but the authorities appear clueless about how to find the source of the problem and stop it.  The exact siting of Steve Reece’s coal mine “exploratory” boreholes are redacted from West Cumbria Mining’s pending licence applications to the Coal Authority.

Image: Position of boreholes (redacted) from West Cumbria Mining Licence Application to the Coal Authority (pending approval)

Here is a video to give a flaour of the pollution now occurring in Whitehaven.  When leaks of toxic pollution happen deep underground whether from old coal mines or from proposed GDF they are nigh on impossible to stop or to mitigate, exacerbated by the fact that the authorities refuse to take responsibility


 Councillors and the public in East Riding are being given the chance to stop the GDF in its tracks in their area – a chance that was denied to the people of Cumbria who have already voted no to the plan many times over.  The rules have been changed to allow the GDF plan once more into West Cumbria. This area is seen as the most politically expedient choice for a GDF with the presence of Sellafield and a nuclear compliant workforce.  There are mumblings from other areas that ‘Sellafield has the waste already so a GDF should go there.’   However the presence of 150 tonnes of plutonium (not classified as waste, not earmarked for GDF)  is the very reason why earthquake inducing mining should not take place anywhere near the Sellafield site – either from Steve Reece’s coal mine (just five miles away) or from the far bigger void of a GDF..


There was no discussion or vote by the full Copeland Council in Cumbria in forming a “Partnership” with NWS in 2021.  The decision was taken quietly by just four people, including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Copeland, on the executive. There is an ongoing police investigation into one of those for his failure to declare his interests of over £100,000 renumeration from the nuclear sector.  Both the (former) Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Copeland (now Cumberland) are also vehement advocates of the coal mine whose CEO is Mark Kirkbride.  Kirkbride is a key government advisor at the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management advising on investigation techniques, costings and construction on the GDF plans.J


Image: Historic England webpage for Jonathon Swift House, Whitehaven

Looking down upon Whitehaven and near the West Cumbria Mining offices at the Lottery Funded Haig Museum ( ‘bought’ by WCM for £1 off the Coal Authority)  is “Jonathan Swift House.”  Jonathan Swift is said to have lived here as a child and was the author of what is considered to be one of the most important books in English literature, Gullivers Travels.

“all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.”

― Jonathan Swift

West Cumbria is being treated as a nuclear fiefdom despite its beauty, its history, its wildlife, its ‘protected’ ocean and its tourism – all of genuine lasting value unlike the falsely puffed up ‘centre of excellence’ at Sellafield which threatens everything.  We urge councillors not to allow East Riding to become a nuclear fiefdom as is Cumbria.  We will continue to resist but it is difficult when this area is already viewed and treated by industry and government and by others as a nuclear fiefdom enslaved to the most toxic industry on the planet.  There is no “away” for the fiefdom’s wastes, they must be monitored and repackaged as and when necessary. The first step being to allow no further wastes to be railroaded to the Sellafield site.

We fully and vehemently support the motion to withdraw East Riding (and anywhere else) from GDF “conversations.”

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

Address Supplied


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump

100 Degrees  –  “It is anticipated that the bentonite backfill, used in many repository designs, will determine the maximum allowable temperature (typically stated to be 100 °C) above which the bentonite mineral is chemically altered such that its barrier properties become less favourable (Wilson et al., 2011). To keep repository temperatures below this limit, it is necessary to space out heat generating waste packages such as spent fuel and vitrified HAL, potentially having a significant effect on footprint requirements.”

New Nuclear = More and Hotter Wastes ““It is essential to talk about the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle when you are considering building new nuclear power stations,” said Claire Corkhill, a professor of nuclear material degradation at the University of Sheffield and a member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, an independent body that advises the government. “Whilst we have a plan to finally and safely deal with the waste, it is less certain how this will be applied to the modern nuclear reactors that the government are planning to roll out.

Committee on Radioactive Waste ManagementThe Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) provides independent scrutiny and transparent advice to th…

Plutonium Stockpile 

“These are completely different to previous reactors and we are at a very early stage of understanding how to deal with the waste. In my personal view, I do not think we should be building any new nuclear reactors until we have a geological disposal facility available.”

To dump nuclear waste, first they must dump democracy!In the last act of the dying Parliament, MPs quietly voted to dump democratic planning processes to expedite a ‘…

Copeland Borough Council Vote to Join NWS “Community” Partnership

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