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Waste unit has ‘negligible risk’
A STORAGE facility for radioactive waste in Oxfordshire may be given the go-ahead today after officers said there was negligible risk.
The plans mean a new 92,000sq ft storage unit on the Harwell campus will be built to hold the metal from decommissioned nuclear reactors sealed inside concrete blocks until a permanent underground disposal site is built.
It is anticipated that 2,500 cubic metres of intermediate level radioactive waste will be stored at the facility which will be just 2km away from East Hendred and 6km away from Didcot.
The storage facility will be used for radioactive waste arising from the decommissioning of the Joint European Torus (JET) facility in Culham as well as from Harwell itself and from Winfrith in Dorset.
The applicant is Research Sites Restoration Limited (RSRL), a branch of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. RSRL spokesman Angela Vincent said: “The facility is needed to enable on-going decommissioning and to store existing waste from RSRL Harwell and Winfrith sites, and from Culham when it is decommissioned.”
Stewart Lilly, who represents Sutton Courtenay and Harwell on Oxfordshire County Council, said: “None of the residents have phoned me up about this or emailed me and the parish councils have expressed no anxieties.
“I think any concerns people have are more a perception about radioactive waste. “I have been living in Harwell for 26 years and when I first moved here both reactors were still active.”
The proposals will be considered by the county council’s planning and regulation committee at the County Hall at 2pm.
Officers have recommended that the plans be approved because the “perceived harm” would be “negligible” and the site will follow International Atomic Energy Agency standards.
From 2040 it will be replaced with a multi-billion-pound national storage facility.
Green city councillor Craig Simmons said: “The main problems we have had with radioactive waste storage is the road safety aspects.
“No matter how safe the storage facility is, it is the transport which of the waste which carries the risks. We live in a very highly populated county.
“We are against having these facilities in populated areas and there needs to be a long-term solution.”
It is anticipated that two 10 cubic metre concrete boxes of radioactive waste would be transported to the facility each week by road.
They will travel along pre-agreed routes.