Report on high-level nuclear waste storage for Cumbria

The Sellafield Nuclear Plant Sellafield already stores a large amount of radioactive waste earmarked for disposal

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A report into the implications for Cumbria of hosting a high-level nuclear waste repository has been released.

It follows a consultation which found public backing for the plan.

The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership's report set out what would be involved in taking part in a search for a suitable site.

Allerdale and Copeland borough councils and Cumbria County Council will use it to help them decide whether to proceed to the next stage of the process.

They had expressed an interest to the government because a large amount of the country's radioactive waste earmarked for disposal in a geological facility is already stored at Sellafield.

The report - which took three years to compile - heard from experts, commissioned independent research, invited reviews by independent experts, and sought the views of members of the public.

'No simple answers'

The report said that finding a suitable rock formation that could act as an effective barrier would be essential for the construction of a safe disposal facility.

It also found that if a repository was to be sited in west Cumbria it could lead to a number of different negative and positive impacts.

These included the immediate effects of construction such as noise and dust, traffic impacts, possible effects on the visual or physical environment, as well as an impact on tourism, investment and jobs.

The partnership said: "Our overall opinion is that, at this stage, we are fairly confident that an acceptable process can be put in place to assess and mitigate negative impacts, and maximise positive impacts."

Councillor Elaine Woodburn, leader of Copeland Borough Council and the current chair of the partnership, said: "The report does not provide any simple answers because these are complex issues and many of them can only properly be considered if more detailed work is carried out.

"It is now up to the three councils to weigh up the evidence on all sides of the debate.

"The councils will then decide whether to take part in a search to find out if there is anywhere in the Allerdale or Copeland areas that is suitable for a nuclear waste repository.

"If we take part in this process the councils would still have a right to withdraw, but the decision that needs to be made now is still an important one."

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