Uk Government Ministers have repeatedly assured residents that all nuclear waste from imported spent fuel would be sent back to its country of origin.
Thousands of tonnes of spent fuel has been imported into the UK for reprocessing over many decades.
It has now become clear that the Ministers claims were false and that more than 10,000 cubic metres nuclear waste from foreign power stations has been
sealed in concrete and placed in many miles of trenches at a facility at Drigg, Cumbria.
At Sellafield, the UK nuclear reprocessing facility, 405 cubic metres of high level waste and 3,383 cubic metres of intermediate level waste belonging
to foreign countries is stored.
Gordon MacKerron, Chairman of the Government's expert radioactive waste management committee is quoted as admitting "It has always seemed to me
unlikely that all the foreign wastes would be returned."
Ministers break promises over nuclear waste
Paul Brown and Rob Evans
Tuesday August 31, 2004
Nuclear waste from overseas power stations has been sealed in concrete and buried in several miles of trenches in breach of official government
policy, the Guardian can reveal.
Ministers have repeatedly promised that nuclear waste from abroad will not be buried in British soil to make good a pledge that Britain will not
become a nuclear waste dump for countries such as Japan, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
But it has now emerged that more than 10,000 cubic metres of foreign nuclear waste is buried at Drigg in Cumbria because it is too expensive to
transport it back to the countries that produced it. If the waste was buried side by side the trench would stretch for more than 10 kilometres.
It is part of an ever-increasing mountain of waste stored at more than 20 nuclear sites in Britain. Government advisers have warned that up to 20,000
million cubic metres of this waste will pile up in the coming years - and there is no way of disposing of nearly all of it. The government is
currently spending £1.3bn and is planning to increase this to £2bn a year for the next 40 years to try to solve the mounting problems.
The Guardian has learned from Department of Trade and Industry consultation documents and key advisers that the government is to announce a change in
its official policy and start charging foreign governments for the service of storing their waste and subsequently disposing of it in concrete
Until now, the government has insisted that all the waste would be sent back but it now sees retaining foreign nuclear detritus as a money-spinning
venture. Two BNFL plants at Sellafield in Cumbria dissolve the fuel in acid and extract the plutonium and uranium so that it can be returned to those
countries either for storage or reuse in nuclear stations.
In practice not even this has happened and the plutonium and uranium remain at Sellafield under guard.
In addition there is 405 cubic metres of high level waste and 3,383 cubic metres of intermediate level waste belonging to foreign countries stored at
The UK has more than 10,000 cubic metres of high level waste of its own and another 250,000 tonnes of intermediate level waste. Once packaged into
containers suitable for disposal the waste can be 10 times as bulky.
Britain's own waste is in a series of deteriorating buildings at Sellafield and at least 19 other sites around the UK.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
This story has a familiar ring to it. UK nuclear policy has always been conducted in an atmospere of secrecy, misdirection, greed and
Unfortunately, it is always the next generation that has to pay for the previous generation of decision makers misjudgements.