Letter: Importing nuclear waste is not a real solution

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Indy Lifestyle Online
GEOFFREY LEAN, ("A chance gone to waste" Section 2, 26 April), says "the choice of Dounreay as the final destination [for the Georgian uranium] is bizarre" and that, together with Sellafield, these two plants have made Britain "the biggest proliferation hazard in the West". Yet he accuses Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace of being "Nimby".

Our fundamental concern was that global environmental and proliferation issues were not being addressed. The bottom line is that bringing nuclear weapons-usable material to Britain from the former Soviet Union is not the answer to these threats. The secret deal, far from confronting these issues, rode roughshod over existing policies and regulations, and is not the best option on environmental or proliferation grounds.

Now that the Georgian material is in the UK it must be securely stored and certainly not reprocessed. Reprocessing does not "dispose of nuclear material" as many people seem to think. It actually increases the volume of nuclear waste and adds to the radioactivity discharged into the environment around Dounreay. Furthermore, reprocessing would extract the bomb-grade uranium from the Georgian waste - making it more, not less, available for use in bombs.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has now confirmed that it hopes to use the consignment of Georgian uranium to persuade the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to lift its ban on reprocessing. This would allow the import of more overseas waste.

Before Tony Blair makes any more deals with the US it is imperative that all the potential health, environmental and proliferation risks associated with reprocessing are openly considered.

Kevin Dunion Tony Juniper Friends of the Earth

Pete Roche

Greenpeace

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