For Immediate Release: 3rd November 2010
'OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND' NOT ACCEPTABLE
SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP and Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson have today (Wednesday) condemned proposals from the European Commission for EU member states to dispose of nuclear waste by means of deep geological burial. The suggestions come in proposed new EU legislation on the management of radioactive waste.
Mr Hudghton attacked the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude of the Commission and called for nuclear waste to be kept retrievable in near site, near surface facilities where it can be safely monitored.
Mr Gibson highlighted the rejection some 20 years ago by the people of Caithness of a nuclear dump in the north of Scotland - and called on the Commission to rethink its strategy.
Mr Hudghton commented:
"The nuclear industry has left a long-term toxic legacy which will be with us for generations to come. This legacy in itself should point policy-makers around the world towards developing more renewables to meet our future energy needs - and away from the dangers of nuclear.
"Nevertheless, decades of nuclear power have left us with a problem we must deal with and the storage and disposal of radioactive waste must be addressed.
"Nuclear waste should not be simply shoved underground with unknown consequences for future generations.
"The European Commission today has revealed an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach which is wholly unacceptable.
"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make up for some our past mistakes in energy policy - and not to leave them an underground nuclear time bomb with potentially devastating consequences."
Mr Gibson added:
"Some 20 years ago the people of Caithness voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject proposals for a nuclear dump in the north of Scotland. That rejection is mirrored by the current Scottish government which is developing policy away from deep geological disposal.
"Scotland, like other countries in Europe, must deal with its radioactive waste. However, this should be done in such a way as to minimise the transportation of hazardous cargoes and to maximise our ability to monitor in the future.
"Deep disposal implies centralised facilities and impairs future abilities to monitor and retrieve the waste.
"The Commission's proposals therefore fail on a number of counts - and I call upon the EU to reject these suggestions."
Notes for editors
The Commission proposal on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste states "it is broadly accepted at the technical level that deep geological disposal represents the safest and most sustainable option as the end point of the management of high level waste and spent fuel considered as waste. Thus moving towards implementation of disposal should be pursued."
Whilst the UK government has previously announced its preference for deep geological dumping of radioactive waste, the Scottish government has advocated near site, near surface nuclear waste facilities.
In a 1989 referendum organised by Caithness district council 74% of the population rejected plans for a deep nuclear dump at Dounreay.