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Labour need to say no to nuclear waste burial in Wales

09 Apr 2019 4 minute read
Wylfa Power Station. Picture: Andrew Woodvine (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tim Richards

Back in his pre-leadership past, Corbyn was a high-profile opponent of the nuclear issue on both environmental and proliferation grounds.

Unfortunately, the Labour party has recently come out in favour of nuclear power with Jeremy Corbyn doing a u-turn on the issue since becoming party leader.

All that was needed for him to drop his opposition was a must-win by-election near Sellafield – which Labour then lost. Electoral needs seem to trump principle.

However, none of the problems with nuclear waste and plutonium which so concerned him as a back-bench MP have been solved.

Labour are now apparently even considering nationalising the construction of ruinously expensive nuclear power stations.

The support for nuclear power is shared by the Labour Welsh Government and is particularly dangerous for us as Wales is being lined up as a convenient dumping ground for the UK’s most dangerous radioactive waste.

The Welsh Government is currently carrying out a 12-week consultation to see if anywhere in Wales would volunteer to be the home of a nuclear waste disposal site.

It would house the most radioactive material, some of which won’t be safe for 250,000 years. The waste and its containers would occupy 650,000 cubic metres, which is about half the volume of the Millennium Stadium.

Labour’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford’s refusal to support a nation-wide ban on the storage of Nuclear Waste in Wales has been criticised by Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd.

“A Geological Disposal Facility for nuclear waste has been categorically ruled out by the Scottish Government and the UK Government has confirmed that no such dumping will take place in Northern Ireland. That leaves just Wales and England.” said Llyr Gruffydd.

“I waited in vain for the First Minister to make it clear that the dumping of nuclear waste is not welcomed in Wales and yet he hid behind community consent rather than taking a lead.”


Mark Drakeford’s incredible response was to suggest that because nuclear power plants were forced on Wales, thanks to our low-density population, that we should bear the brunt of the UK’s radioactive nuclear waste stockpile too.

“This radioactive waste has been created by us. It is in the lifetime of people in this Chamber where this waste has been created,” he said.

“And we do have a responsibility to deal with the consequences of what we have done, rather than simply saying that we will play no part in bearing that responsibility, that somebody else must do it instead, or that we hand it on to future generations that come after us to clear up the mess that we have left. Because that mess is there; it has already been created.”

Llyr Gruffydd responded: “The First Minister bizarrely seemed be making a moral case for dumping waste in Wales as he claimed that, because we’d created it, we should be responsible for it.

“I think the First Minister needs to realise that Wales had no say in where nuclear power stations were located back in the 1960s. Isn’t it time the people who benefitted from the energy produced took a little responsibility too?”

When the Government-run Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) organised 2 consultation  meetings in Swansea and Llandudno to discuss where to create a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) no details of any potential sites were made public and it was understood that the body was seeking “a willing host community” where radioactive waste could be stored hundreds of metres underground.

However, after Swansea Council objected to the plan and large numbers of anti-Nuclear Power activists expressed an interest in the Llandudno meeting RWM decided not to hold a meeting in Wales and do it online instead.

The result was that what were supposed to be 3-hour meetings were reduced to a one hour “webinar”, half of which was the showing of a RWM video and no chance of a come-back to the experts online. In fact since activists only saw the experts online there is no evidence that they actually came to Wales at all.

Swansea was only the first County Council to object to Nuclear waste GDF as five other County Councils have already objected and, according to CND, over 50 Town and Community Councils have joined them so far.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have already ruled out hosting the dump in their countries. It is time for the Labour Welsh Government to speak for the nation and say that Wales will not host this nuclear waste disposal site.

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