Ministers are preparing to sanction a policy which could turn Britain into the “nuclear dustbin of the world” by allowing thousands of tons of radioactive waste shipped to the UK from abroad to be stored here permanently, the daily Independent reported on February 2nd. The U.K. government has resurrected the concept of “waste substitution” because it would produce a six-fold reduction in international waste transports–going from approximately 225 shipments to 38 and would speed up British Nuclear Fuels plc’s (BNFL) return of waste from its Sellafield complex to overseas reprocessing customers in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan, the newspaper reported.
The U.K. Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) said in late January that a study it had commissioned from NAC Worldwide Consulting on the environmental consequences of ILW substitution showed that approach would achieve “broad environmental neutrality, and at the same time…offer other advantages to the U.K. and the broader international community,” the paper reported. According to experts that spoke with the Independent, the main problem is where to store the nuclear waste as the special repository will not appear before 2025. The announcement of the proposed substitution immediately drew fire from environmental groups and the opposition Liberal Democrat party, which claimed such a policy would make the U.K. an international nuclear dump, said the paper.