Tougher limits on waste proposed

THE PEOPLE of west Cumbria will not be reprocessing nuclear fuel at the high-technology Sellafield plant in the distant future, but will be subsistence farmers living on top of the country's nuclear waste repository.

According to the Government's official radiation safety advisers, it is only by making such assumptions that the risks of nuclear waste disposal can be properly assessed.

The National Radiological Protection Board yesterday recommended tough new limits governing the safety of waste disposal. The annual risk of fatal cancer or hereditary defects resulting from nuclear waste disposal should be less than one in a million a year, the board proposes.

This is 10 times more stringent than previous recommendations, according to Dr John Cooper, who heads the board's environmental assessments division.

However, the board has relaxed one constraint: the nuclear industry no longer has to prove that radiation doses will be within the limits for all time; instead it need calculate them 'only' for the next million years.

The future scenario for west Cumbria - where the nuclear industry proposes to bury its waste - will only apply some 300,000 years hence, when the maximum flux of radioactivity from an underground repository would hit the biosphere. Dr Cooper recommended, for the purposes of calculation, 'if you place a community of subsistence farmers in the area where the flux of radioactivity is highest and you control the risk to them, then in all probability you will be controlling the risk to everyone'.

Radioactivity will eventually leak out of any underground repository, generating risks. The board's basic criterion, Dr Cooper said, was that people alive in the future should be given a level of protection at least equivalent to that accorded to people alive now.

If the annual risks turn out to be 10 times greater (one in 100,000) than recommended, then the nuclear industry must consider other sites and other ways of handling the waste, the board says.

A spokeswoman for UK Nirex, the industry's waste disposal company, welcomed the report.' It is too early to say if Sellafield will meet the one in a million criterion. We are hoping to meet that target, but need to do more assessment work,' she said.

Patrick Green, from Friends of the Earth, said: 'The whole concept of putting forward a safety case for timescales that transcend human experience is essentially an impossible task.'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain