I hope that at least some of the demonstrators who descended on Carlisle last Wednesday managed to stay in the area long enough to enjoy a beautiful spring day today in the Lakes. It really has been a day to see the natural beauty of the landscape at its sparkling best. Demonstrators will feel proud of having averted what they saw as a future threat to the area from the continuing search for a site in Cumbria for a nuclear waste repository. No doubt many pints of Cumbrian real ale were downed in celebration at the County Councils’ decision not to take further part in the search for a site.
However, the second part of the Council’s resolution has not received the attention it deserves, either from protesters, or the general media. The resolution had been amended during the debate to call on the Government to investment in improving the existing surface storage facilities at Sellafield, in line with the recent National Audit Office report. To many of my Council colleagues who have been round Sellafield, the NAO report provided official confirmation of what their own eyes had seen – Sellafield today is not fit for purpose:
Successive site operators developed Sellafield without sufficient thought to decommissioning or retrieving and disposing of radioactive waste. Some of the older facilities at Sellafield containing highly hazardous radioactive waste have deteriorated so much that their contents pose significant risks to people and the environment.
(NAO Report 1.10).
The Council saw petitions with thousands of signatures, worried about the threat that an MRWS might pose 20 – 30 – 40 – 50 years in the future. That’s all very well, but this official Government report, dated last November, states there is a real threat, today, and expresses serious reservations about the current management of the clean up on the site. I haven’t seen anything like the same public outcry over this issue. Where are the protesters demanding more investment in Sellafield today? because that’s what this is about.
I know many in the green movement would look horrified at the suggestion they lobby George Osborne to put more money into Sellafield. But, if you really care about the safety of the people of Cumbria, about preserving the wonderful environment of the Lake District, and about supporting the economy of one of the poorer parts of the UK – then that’s where you should be campaigning.