Swansea has a fresh challenge to contend with this week, with the announcement that UK Government is coming to both Swansea and Llandudno next month, to hold public events about its Site Evaluation proposals, in its search for communities willing to host a Nuclear Waste Facility.
The government’s Radioactive Waste Management department (RWM) has organised a series of events to help people understand the context of it’s proposed approach to Site Evaluation for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) and to answer any questions individuals or organisations may have about their current consultations.
Individuals and organisations are being invited to register their interest in attending the Swansea event on 12th March, or the Llandudno event on 14th March, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll need to provide:
- your name, organisation (if any), and email
- the date and city of your choice
- your choice of the 12-3pm or 6-9pm session
- any special requirements in terms of access and diet.
It’s not immediately clear whether Swansea or any other sites are currently being evaluated, and in whose hands any final decision will rest. What is clear is the immediate strength of feeling in opposition to the idea. Cllr. Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, says he and his colleagues will be strongly opposing any scheme.
According to WalesOnline, the Welsh Government has said it supported the principle of finding a long-term solution for the most dangerous radioactive waste through burying it, but would only support such a site being in Wales if a community was willing to host it.
But residents and experts are shocked at the prospect of allowing nuclear wastes to be buried in Swansea.
Jill Gough, former National Secretary of CND Cymru, says that to dispose of radioactive waste beneath the ground anywhere in Wales – or anywhere on the planet, would be a disaster.
“We might think buried wastes will be safe for 100 or 1000 years, but it is not only Climate Change that makes the geological and hydro-geological future uncertain. Geology is constantly shifting. Some of these radioactive materials will remain dangerous to all living things for 250,000 years.”
What to do with the waste is the big unanswered question for the nuclear power industry, and it’s a key reason so many people oppose the very idea of generating nuclear energy in the first place. Jill says that Radioactive Waste should be:
- Absolutely isolated from the ecosystem;
- Not reprocessed in any way;
- Not transported but stored near to the site where it was produced;
- Constantly monitored;
- Stored above ground in repackageable containers marked clearly with all languages;
- Stored at well signposted very well guarded sites;
- Well documented for future generations;
- Generous and ring-fenced financial resources made available to maintain storage sites.
“Most of all – we should stop producing any more radioactive wastes immediately.” she says. “Those of us who have campaigned for decades against nuclear power across the UK have seen this serious radioactive waste problem looming.”
There is to be a generous financial “bribe” offered to communities willing to take the Radioactive Waste, which could seem tempting to struggling communities in our cash strapped corner of South West Wales. The government website says that communities willing to take part in the Site Evaluation consultation process will receive £1m a year initially and up to £2.5m a year if boreholes are drilled
But Dawn Lyle, director of regional engagement at 4theRegion, says the government in Westminster is clearly not on the same page as local people when it comes to their vision for our region.
“We want a region that protects and enhances its natural environment, that prioritises the well-being of people, places and the planet – and looks after the well-being of future generations. This region certainly does not want to be an enabler for the nuclear power industry, which puts the future well-being of people and the planet in direct jeopardy. No amount of money could ever compensate for the possibility of future contamination of our land and our water.”
Joe Kidd, Vice-Chair of Marine Energy Wales, agrees. “Welsh Government has been strongly supportive of the move to renewables, particularly the opportunity to take a global lead in marine energy. The Well-being of Future Generations Act is also lauded across Europe as a bold, positive step in the right direction. Unfortunately, getting our hands dirty with disposal of nuclear waste feels very out of kilter with this clean, green vision for the future.”
What do you think?
There are a number of petitions up and running that you may wish to sign, including this one on Change.org
Swansea CND & Labour CND Cymru are also holding an organising meeting for those that want to protest the public meeting on 12th March. The meeting will be held at the Environment Centre on Tuesday 19th Feb from 7pm.
Please let us know if you hear of other meetings relating to this issue and we will endeavour to share them widely.
And finally, whatever your views, please register to attend one of the public meetings on 12th March by emailing email@example.com.
4theRegion – Independent, Collaborative & for South West Wales