Tuesday, May 09, 2006

'Optimism gone mad' on nuclear waste

The UK has still not developed a plan for disposing of its nuclear waste, says New Scientist magazine. So the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, cannot go ahead with a new nuclear power programme claiming that it has.

An editorial in the 6 May edition of New Scientist argues that draft recommendations from the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), revealed last month, do not provide a solution to the problem of what to do with the waste produced by 50 years of nuclear power and weapons.

CoRWM has said that disposal deep underground is the "best available" long term solution for the waste, some of which remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.

But it has not expressed any preference for the type of geology in which a repository should be built.

Nor has the committee been able to say whether the waste should be retrievable or not.

"The committee is split," says New Scientist, "with some members arguing that retrievability would benefit future generations and others saying it would burden them."

Blair has said that new reactors cannot be built until there is a plan for disposing of radioactive waste, the editorial points out.

"Some advocates of nuclear power will doubtless argue that CoRWM has now provided that plan. This is optimism gone mad," it concludes.

"Deciding to put waste down a hole, with no idea what form the repository should take or where it should be, is no more of a plan than has existed for the past 30 years."

From Rob Edwards

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