Friday, June 21, 2024

Nuclear waste to be buried 650ft under the English countryside

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Nuclear waste can remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years, with fears of disposing of it underground stemming from the fact water can flow through waste, carrying radioactivity back to the surface.

However, once buried and sealed with cement, such waste will be practically impossible to reach should there be such a problem.

Nuclear accidents are rare but when they do happen the consequences can be deadly and extremely expensive.

This was evidenced by the disastrous fire at the Sellafield site in 1957, which released radioactivity across the UK and Europe. 

Other accidents at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986 and Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 were even more devastating.

The Government’s proposals come after policymakers recently announced the biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years. 

Hinkley Point C is already under construction in Somerset at an estimated cost of £46bn, while Sizewell C in Suffolk is also about to start with a similar price tag.

A third giant nuclear station is also being planned alongside a fleet of so-called small modular reactors.

Andrew Bowie, the minister for nuclear energy, said: “We’re taking sensible steps to manage our radioactive waste, while reducing the burden on the environment and taxpayer.”

David Peattie, chief executive officer at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, added: “We will maintain the highest standards of safety and environmental protection to deliver our nationally important decommissioning mission.”

As for the much larger geological disposal facility, which will hold the UK’s deadliest waste, this will soon become Britain’s biggest and most expensive infrastructure project ever.

Two sites are under consideration for the facility, which is expected to be 3,500ft deep.

One lies off the coast of Lincolnshire and the other is off the coast of Cumbria around Copeland.

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