Parliament: Nuclear waste - Lords urge new dumping policy

Sarah Schaefer
Wednesday 24 March 1999 01:02

PEERS YESTERDAY urged the Government to end its "fragmented" policy on dealing with nuclear waste.

A report by the influential Lords' committee on science and technology argued that phased underground disposal was "the right way forward" to deal with the waste.

"Nuclear waste has been treated in an ad hoc way for far too long There are wastes for which no long-term management method has been identified and there are radioactive materials in store that are not needed but that have yet to be classified... reliance on supervision for very long periods increases the probability of human error," Lord Tombs, the committee's chairman, said.

The peers' inquiry was set up after the decision in 1997 by the then Tory environment secretary, John Gummer, to reject Nirex's plans to build the first stage of Britain's underground nuclear waste dump near Sellafield, Cumbria. He also turned down British Nuclear Fuel's plans to keep foreign intermediate-level nuclear wastes in Britain after their reprocessing.

The report also said: "We must start now to find a solution to this unprecedented problem."

But Greenpeace dismissed the committee as a "pack of ostriches". "Dumping nuclear waste underground is irresponsible," said Dr Helen Wallace, a Greenpeace scientist. "Evidence at the Nirex inquiry showed that any dump would leak and contaminate land, rivers and water supplies."

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