Letter: Nuclear waste storage

YOUR article on the storage of radioactive waste at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston ("Nuclear dumps to run out of space by 2002, says report", 2 February) gives rise to unnecessary public concern.

It highlights a report by William Peden of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and suggests a picture of decay and potential danger because of the absence of a national nuclear waste disposal strategy following the scrapping of plans for the Nirex deep waste repository at Sellafield in Cumbria.

In fact, AWE Aldermaston does not have a space crisis for the storage of radioactive waste materials. Our plans for the treatment, storage and disposal of radioactive waste have never depended on the Nirex facility being available to us. We are well able to meet our future needs.

AWE produces three types of radioactive waste: low-level solid waste such as coveralls and filters; intermediate-level solid waste such as contaminated materials from process areas; and liquid effluent from cleaning processes. We do not produce any high-level waste such as that from the nuclear power industry.

The majority of our low-level waste will continue to be sent to the national disposal site at Drigg in Cumbria, which has ample capacity for this type of disposal well into the next century. The remainder and our intermediate level waste will continue to be placed in specially designed and approved containers and stored on-site in purpose- designed facilities.

Plans for a further waste store, which will be available by 2000, are well advanced.


Chief Executive

AWE Hunting-Brae

Aldermaston, Berkshire