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WATCH: "Most significant stride ever" in Sellafield clean-up

Sellafield Ltd says it's taken its "most significant stride ever" in the 100 year mission to clean up the nuclear site.

Workers have removed historic nuclear fuel rods from the site's waste ponds cutting radioactivity levels in them by over two thirds. The operation has also brought forward the projected date for draining the pools completely by around twenty years. Ryan Dollard reports.

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Moffat named Europe's first 'Dark Sky' town

Moffat. Credit: ITV Border

A Dumfries and Galloway town has become the first in Europe to secure Dark Sky status.

£240,000 has been spent changing lightbulbs in the streets of Moffat to reduce the amount of light pollution, making it easier to see the stars and supporting local wildlife.

It's hoped the project will be extended across the region.

It's an achievement to have the Dark Sky status and it's a good investment because actually, it actually saves the council money in the long term."

– Cllr Colin Smyth, Dumfries and Galloway Council

New nuclear waste machine arrives at Sellafield

It was transferred through Beckermet. Credit: ITV Border

Part of a machine which will play a crucial role cleaning up the most hazardous building at Sellafield has arrived on site.

The 50-tonne component was transferred three miles by road from Beckermet.

It will retrieve radioactive waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage facility.

Peebles earthquake - did you feel it?

The epicentre of the earthquake was 2km below the earth's crust Credit: Google Maps

The British Geological Survey reported an earthquake that registered at 1.4 on the Richter scale near Peebles yesterday lunchtime. The epicentre of the quake was two kilometres below the earth's surface. No substantial damage has been reported.

The largest ever earthquake recorded in the British Isles was at Dogger Bank in 1931 - it clocked in at 6.1 on the Richter scale. Though it was 60 miles offshore, it was still powerful enough to cause minor damage to buildings on the east coast of England.

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Bishop opens new hydro-power plant in Cumbria

The Bishop of Carlisle opened the new plant. Credit: ITV Border

Cumbria's latest hydro-power plant has been opened, with an unusual ceremony by the Bishop of Carlisle.

The facility at Rydal in the Lake District, cost £2 million and will power the nearby Conference Centre and up to 400 homes.

The Carlisle Diocese provided a third of the funding for the project, and the Bishop of Carlisle says it underlines the church's commitment to supporting green energy.

We're delighted that everybody who's worked on this project has been from Cumbria and so we hope that it's avery significant project in economic terms which has benefitted the economy of the whole county."

– Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle

Orionid meteor shower: Everything you need to know to catch a glimpse in Cumbria and the Borders

A 'shooting star' in the night sky Credit: PA

Orionid meteor showers (that is, shooting stars appearing to emanate from the constellation Orion) are expected to peak in visibility and frequency over the next couple of nights.

The streaks across the sky are actually caused by debris from Halley's Comet falling into the Earth's atmosphere and burning up on entry.

A 'waxing' moon Credit: PA

One of the reasons this year's shower is going to be spectacular is because of the Moon.

The Moon is always very bright at this time of year as sunshine bounces off it into clear autumnal skies. However, the peak of the Orionid meteor will be when the Moon is still waxing, and a lot of it will be in shade, providing a much dimmer night sky.

Orion Constellation is where the Orionid meteors will appear to come from (Top Right) Credit: PA

Despite this, the best time to see the meteors will be just before dawn, when the Moon has set and the sky will be at its darkest.

The best places to catch a glimpse in your area will be the Galloway Forest Park, anInternational Dark Sky Park, where skygazers have been able to see the milky way with the naked eye for centuries.

South of the border, the Cumbrian Lake District provides an ideal place to witness the astronomical event, with Allen Bank in Grasmere and Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre both designated as Dark Sky Discovery Sites.

You can find a map with every dark sky location in the UK here.

Halley's Comet is clearly visible in the Bayeux tapestry, where it was said be a bad omen for the newly crowned King Harold Credit: PA

Halley's comet is probably the most famous of the Earth's regular astronomical events, even though it only appears once every 75-76 years.

The comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986, and isn't due back until 2061.

Sellafield 'ground-breaking' nuclear waste research

Sellafield 'ground-breaking' nuclear waste research Credit: PA

Scientists studying nuclear waste at Sellafield say new research could mean quicker and cheaper decommissioning.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is responsible for cleaning up the country's nuclear waste, has been criticised for soaring costs and slipping deadlines.

Scientists say their discovery will mean a "radically simplified approach" to the packaging and disposal of intermediate level waste.

The research looked at the chemical behaviours of waste stored in the Magnox Swarf storage Silo. It is one of the UK’s most hazardous buildings and has been prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Previously, scientists thought a 22-step mechanical treatment and encapsulation process was necessary to manage and dispose of the waste stored in silos constructed over fifty years ago.

But the study’s findings suggest the old method could be replaced with an alternative three-step solution which stores the "raw" waste with concrete grout inside a shielded container.

Dr Adrian Simper, the NDA’s Strategy and Technology Director, said:

To be able to deliver a technical solution to historic intermediate level waste at Sellafield, that not only offers a safe and secure route but also opens up the possibility of a quicker and cheaper alternative to current technology, is a genuinely exciting development.”

– Dr Adrian Simper

The four-year study was led by the NDA, Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory, with academics from the universities of Bristol, Leeds and London South Bank.

Their findings are being met with caution by Cumbrian environmental campaigners.

The Green Party's Jill Perry told ITV Border it makes no sense for the Government to remain "wedded" to the nuclear industry:

"This is one facility among many at Sellafield that house radioactive waste in various states of decay. It remains a very long-term, expensive and dangerous business without any guarantees of safety over the lengths of time necessary."

– Jill Perry, Secretary Allerdale and Copeland Green Party
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