For immediate release: 27 April 2006

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has expressed alarm at recommendations released today by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), which “considers geological disposal to be the best available approach” to disposing of high- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The waste in question is some of the most radioactive in existence, and will be extremely harmful for thousands of years. And it is not only CND that questions the wisdom of such a step. The UK’s Environment Agency recently  expressed  concern that waste containers will ultimately corrode and fail. They stated  that “there appears to be insufficient justification for assuming that packages will last for a target period of 500 years.”

The serious long-term nature of the problem of nuclear waste storage was reflected in a Nirex report of March 2005, which stated that today’s radioactive waste would have to remain safe throughout any effects of climate change, including the next Ice Age which is due in 100,000 years time. At last night’s parliamentary public meeting on nuclear power organised by CND, Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said, “In a few hundred years time, will there be electricity? Will people understand English? How can we be sure that people in the future understand the grave danger posed by this radioactive waste, which can be deadly for hundreds of years? The nuclear industry is even considering creating stone monuments at nuclear waste storage sites with instructions engraved onto them. This serious proposal sounds absurd at first, but really it underlines the fact that people centuries from now will still have to deal with our dangerous toxic legacy.”

CND strongly opposes the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations – apparently favoured by the Prime Minister – which would add to the large quantities of nuclear waste for which there is no safe long-term storage solution.   Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Irresponsible nuclear power policies over the last decades have produced vast quantities of radioactive waste, some of which will be deadly dangerous for tens of thousands of years. There is nothing to suggest that the longstanding objections to geological storage have been resolved. On the contrary, dangers presented by climate change, which may affect water table levels, geological structures, and coastal contours, will impact upon waste storage in ways previously undreamed of.  At a time when no safe storage options have been found, it would be irresponsible in the extreme to build new nuclear power stations to add to this deadly toxic legacy.”


Notes to Editor:

1. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.