Wales

Nuclear waste storage 'will not be forced' on any area

An artist's impression of a Geological Disposal Facility Image copyright UK government
Image caption An artist's impression of a Geological Disposal Facility

A nuclear waste storage site will not be built in any community that does not want it, the Welsh Government has said.

Public consultations have been launched in Wales, England and Northern Ireland over a geological disposal facility (GDF).

The programme is UK government-funded and the Welsh Government decided in May 2015 to support the creation of a GDF.

Campaigners opposing the plan said the current policy amounted to bribing deprived communities to store waste.

The GDF would store highly radioactive material, which could take up to 250,000 years to become safe. The amount of waste stored would fill half the Principality Stadium.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on possible arrangements for working with communities that may wish to discuss hosting the nuclear storage site.

A similar consultation will be held by the UK government in respect of England and Northern Ireland.

The GDF will be delivered by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

No sites have been selected or are under consideration.

Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption Lesley Griffiths said local support would be needed before a decision was taken

Cabinet Secretary for Environment Lesley Griffiths said although the Welsh Government supported the creation of a GDF, this would not necessarily mean one would be built in Wales or the Welsh Government would seek to have one built.

"Before a final decision about siting a GDF is taken, a test of public support in the potential host community would be required," she added.

The host area would receive £1m a year during the selection process - this would increase to £2.5m a year when test boreholes were drilled.

Once selected, the community could expect long-term payments, up to 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 550 permanent jobs.

The waste would be buried between 200m and 1,000m below ground.

The UK's department for business, energy and industrial strategy said this facility would provide "a permanent solution to the legacy of higher-activity waste that has been accumulating in the UK since the 1940s".

Robat Idris from the campaign group People Against Wylfa B said: "We should not be producing any more fresh nuclear waste as we haven't yet solved the problem of what to do with legacy waste.

"If government is looking at disposing of the waste, they should be looking at the geology of areas first, deciding which areas are suitable and then asking relevant communities."

He said he feared the current policy was a bribe for economically deprived communities to take the waste.

Earlier this month, Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said the Welsh Government should refuse any plans to create a site to bury nuclear waste.

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