Areas of Allerdale identified as potential Cumbrian radioactive waste store

The "search area" of Allerdale where a new GDF could be based. Allerdale GDF Working Group.
The "search area" in Allerdale. Credit: Allerdale GDF Working Group.

The parts of Allerdale which could host an underground store for radioactive waste from the nuclear industry in west Cumbria have been identified.

An organisation set up to look for a site for the setup - known a a known as a geological disposal facility (GDF) - has revealed its "search area". This is the geographical area of land within which Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) – the Government organisation responsible for the project – would look to identify a suitable site.

A GDF is a place where radioactive waste from the nuclear industry - which accounts for about a fifth of the UK's electricity - would be stored several hundred metres underground. It needs to have enough volume of rock surrounding it to prevent harmful quantities ofradiation reaching the atmosphere.

The Allerdale GDF Working Group has said this search area has been identified following discussions with local people over the last nine months and using existing information which includes local geology, environmental issues, transport infrastructure and safety.

The Working Group’s independent chair, Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “We carefully considered all the information publicly available to understand which parts of Allerdale, outside of the Lake District National Park, could possibly be included and where there might be difficulties and opportunities.

“We looked at issues such as safety and security, community requirements, the environment, engineering feasibility, existing or required transport links and value for money. We also listened to the views expressed by all the local people who have been in touch or attended our drop-in sessions over the past nine months. Once we pulled all this information together, we were able to narrow down the proposed Search Area from the whole of Allerdale to a particular area.

A similar search is also being carried out in Copeland.

Plans to create such a setup in the county were first considered almost 10 years ago and were rejected by Cumbria County Council

The Allerdale search area is made up of 13 electoral wards of Allerdale Borough Council: Aspatria; Broughton St Bridgets; Dalton; Ellen & Gilcrux; Flimby; Harrington & Salterbeck; Maryport North; Maryport South; Moorclose & Moss Bay; Seaton & Northside; St John’s; St Michael’s and Stainburn & Clifton.

Further investigations need to be carried out to narrow down where might be the most suitable and feasible sites.

The deep geology off the coastline is also being considered for the underground elements of a GDF, these would be linked to the shore by underground tunnels.

For the plans to go forward, an organisation known as a community partnership would need to be formed, which would require one of Allerdale's local authority's to take part.

The search for a suitable site could take more than 10 years and would only proceed to construction following a "test of publice support", which could include a local referendum.

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