DTI accused of burying “bad news” on nuclear waste

The Government was heavily rebuked yesterday over plans to permanently dump foreign nuclear waste in Cumbria.

The Liberal Democrats slammed the Department of Trade and Industry for burying “bad news” over nuclear waste.

Norman Baker, the Lib Dems environment spokesman, accused the DTI of trying to ‘bury bad news.’

“This is a shocking suggestion deliberately released in a week when the media’s attention was elsewhere in an attempt to bury bad news.

“The UK already has large amounts of intermediate and high-level waste and this will merely add to the stockpile.

“Yet again, the Government is bending over backwards to help the nuclear industry, irrespective of the cost to the taxpayer or the environment.”

The DTI began a public consultation exercise on Friday – due to conclude in April – on plans to store intermediate level waste (ILW) at the Sellafield reprocessing complex.

The DTI said British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) could pocket half a billion pounds in charges should the hazardous waste – which is ordinarily shipped back to the country of origin – be stored in Cumbria.

BNFL already stores low-level waste above ground in Cumbria.

But the DTI made several provisos. Ministers want high level waste to be returned to countries such as Japan and Germany.

Friends of the Earth said the proposal would turn Britain into the “nuclear dustbin of the world.”

Jill Perry of West Cumbria Friends of the Earth warned high level waste could be kept at Sellafield:

“West Cumbria is already faced with dealing with thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste.

“This plan would make things much worse and see high level waste, which should go back to countries of origin, stay at Sellafield.”

BNFL said there was a strong “positive environmental and economic case for ILW substitution.”