Britain's biggest low-level nuclear dump a 'safety risk'

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The Independent Online

The Environment Agency has warned that the nuclear dump at Drigg in Cumbria, run by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) has inadequate safety plans in place to justify future disposals, including radioactive material from nuclear plants around Britain.

Inspectors concluded that radiation at the dump could far exceed acceptable levels in the long term. The agency accused BNFL of failing to "make an adequate or robust argument for continued disposals" and warned of future risks. Its report says "estimates of doses and risks from existing disposals to members of the public in the future significantly exceed current regulatory targets."

The assessment of BNFL's safety plan for the plant, which is six miles from Sellafield, warns that an unacceptable risk could be posed to future generations. The agency is currently reviewing the terms of its authorisations to BNFL to operate the site.

BNFL said the report did not question the safety of the site at present or its management. It said the concerns related to hundreds of years in the future. "There is time for us to work with them to address any concerns they might have," a BNFL spokesman said.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats' environment spokesman, said the Prime Minister should read the report before considering any expansion of the nuclear industry: "This may be low-level waste but it represents high-level risk. Quite clearly long-term safeguards at Drigg are inadequate," Mr Baker said. "I hope this report will be read carefully by the cheerleaders for more nuclear plants."