Select Committee on Trade and Industry Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by Friends of the Earth



Interim conditioning sThe large majority of radioactive waste is in a poor physical state and requires conditioning to achieve passive safety. During my questioning I was asked what should be done to avoid the "quick and dirty banging of heads together" to achieve this—possibly at the expense of long-term safety.

 sSubsequent to my oral evidence I listened to Norman Askew of BNFL in the afternoon. I have also spoken to the Environment Agency and Nirex. Given this additional information I would like to add to my original answer.

 sBNFL gave the impression (during their early questioning over the £6 billion increase in liabilities) that the EA was in general agreement with BNFL's proposal to take interim steps that do not make allowance for the Nirex process for taking into consideration the long term. [1]The Environment Agency have informed me that they have not given such assurances to Nirex.

 sTo ignore the long term would be unethical and unnecessary[2] and—due to the possible future need for reworking—could have serious implications for the magnitude of the liabilities.

 sThe NII, EA and Nirex have complementary roles and should work to examine different aspects of proposals. There should be a comprehensive audit following on from the 1996 audit[3] covering all LMA sites. This should feed into an open decision making process on the optimum conditioning technique.Dr Rachel Western18 July 2002

1   This is known as the "letter of comfort" process. Back

2   Nirex response to questions from the joint RWMAC/NuSAC Study of the Requirements for Conditioning, Packaging and Storage of Intermediate Level Waste. (2001-2) p4. Back

3   The Management of Solid Radioactive Waste at Sellafield and Drigg. NII 1996, Vol I and II. Back

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