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Nuclear Waste Disposal Linked To Sellafield Future

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A West Cumbria Yes To Geological Disposal Of Nuclear Waste In Area Has To Be Part Of Viable Integrated Plan For Nuclear At Sellafield

There is no evidence of any viable integrated plan or campaign for the future of the Sellafield site says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in the nuclear industry, responded to the publication on 24th July of a White Paper on implementing geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste. See notes to editors for copy of Written Ministerial Statement and link to The White Paper – Implementing Geological Disposal (

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for Energy, said “GMB has a long standing commitment to the nuclear industry and to the whole community in West Cumbria. GMB will do what is best for the community and the industry.

The whole process around a geological disposal facility (GDF) if the waste is ultimately to be stored in West Cumbria it has to be linked to a future for the Sellafield site.

GMB want an integrated plan for the nuclear sector at Sellafield. This is a growing global industry and with an integrated plan West Cumbria could be right at the centre of the nuclear renaissance.

There is no evidence of any viable integrated plan or campaign for the future of the Sellafield site.

If there is no future for the site then there is no way we could recommend to the local community they accept having the nation's nuclear waste stored in West Cumbria.

GMB is extremely cynical about the government's proposed consultation process. This feels like more irrational disjointed government thinking over what is a major strategic industry.

The West Cumbria community has been misled for far too long on what is planned for the future. No one should take GMB support for granted.”


Contact: Gary Smith  07710 618 909 or Chris Jukes 07870 176 733 or 0191 233 3930 or GMB press office  07921 289880

Notes to editors


Baroness Verma: Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

24th July 2014

Publication of Implementing Geological Disposal White Paper 2014

I am today publishing a White Paper on implementing geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste. 

The White Paper – Implementing Geological Disposal ( - follows a public consultation that my department carried out during 2013 on potential amendments to the existing siting process established in 2008 for a geological disposal facility (GDF) and reflects key messages from that consultation, as well as lessons learned during the previous siting process.

The UK Government remains committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of higher activity radioactive waste. We already have a legacy of waste from decades of enjoying the benefits of low-carbon electricity from nuclear power. We must manage this material responsibly and, in doing so, we can also support the development of new, clean, low-carbon nuclear electricity generation in the UK by ensuring there is a safe, modern facility for permanent disposal of waste.  Alongside renewables and clean oil and gas, nuclear energy will help us build a home-grown, low-carbon energy mix that will ensure energy security for the UK. 

The UK Government also continues to favour an approach to identifying potential sites for a GDF that involves working with communities who are willing to participate in the siting process.

Construction and operation of a GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure initiative, which will provide skilled employment for hundreds of people over many decades. Hosting a GDF is likely to bring significant economic benefits to a community. It will contribute greatly to the local economy and wider socio-economic framework. There are likely to be further infrastructure investments and positive impacts on local service industries associated with the development.  In addition, Government has also committed in the White Paper to provide additional investment to the community that hosts a GDF.

The White Paper outlines an approach based on working with interested communities, beginning with two years of actions overseen by Government and intended to address issues that the public and stakeholders have told us are important to them.  

These actions include: bringing GDF development in England within the definition of a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ in the Planning Act 2008, including the production of a National Policy Statement and accompanying Appraisal of Sustainability; a national geological screening exercise, which will consider what level of information is already available about geology across the country and how this could be usefully related to the safety case for a GDF to help the developer engage openly with interested communities on their prospects for development; and further engagement to develop the detail of community representation mechanisms in the siting process, including a test of public support prior to final decisions on facility siting.

All of this is intended to happen before formal discussions between interested communities and the developer begin, so that any community wanting to engage with the process can do so with more information and greater clarity about the nature of a development. 

With regard to new nuclear power, UK Government policy is that, before development consents for new nuclear power stations are granted, I will need to be satisfied that effective arrangements exist or will exist to manage and dispose of the waste they will produce. Government has considered these conclusions in the production of this White Paper and continues to be satisfied that they apply.

The White Paper is issued jointly by the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. The Welsh Government is currently considering a wider review of its higher activity radioactive waste management policy. The Scottish Government has a separate higher activity radioactive policy.

Today I am also publishing the latest annual report on the geological disposal programme, covering April 2013 to March 2014. These documents will be deposited in the Libraries of the House.


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