“Cumbria: conflicting attitudes to radioactive waste disposal with regard to Higher Activity Waste (HAW) and Very Low Level Waste (VLLW)”

Allan, Peter (2013) “Cumbria: conflicting attitudes to radioactive waste disposal with regard to Higher Activity Waste (HAW) and Very Low Level Waste (VLLW)”. [Dissertation]

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It is apparent from this independent research project, and others’ previous work, that the disposal of radioactive wastes within Cumbria, particularly Higher Activity Waste (HAW) and Very Low Level Waste (VLLW), is at the forefront of public concerns. This study has been conducted contextually, in that there are strong indications that a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) is a possibility for the UK. However, by reviewing Cumbria’s awareness and acceptability for permanent radioactive waste disposal sites, it is clear that this issue has not been effectively managed and communicated to the public through the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process.

The two developments used to compare attitudes towards radioactive waste disposal were the Keekle Head VLLW disposal development and the potential GDF for HAW. With particular regard to these developments, attitudes, awareness and acceptability were studied through a questionnaire.

It became apparent during the study that public acceptance of nuclear waste disposal in Cumbria has improved post the MRWS process: but the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) policy is still prevalent throughout the county, as expected. It was found that in relation to Very Low Level Waste (VLLW) disposal facilities there is a low level of support within West Cumbria, and a general lack of knowledge on the subject. Many were unaware of the differences in radioactivity levels and dangers between HAW and VLLW, with many categorising all nuclear waste into one category; therefore suggesting the region is ill educated in relation to the realistic dangers of radioactive wastes.

It was concluded that greater education is required within Cumbria as to the dangers of radioactive waste. This should be coupled with governing bodies and local authorities maintaining a high degree of transparency in relation to the ‘nuclear agenda’ to inform judgement on disposal options: this is essential for public acceptance.
Key Words: Geological Disposal, Higher Activity Waste, Very Low Level Waste, NIMBY, MRWS

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