AN accident at Torness nuclear power station in 2002, described at the time by British Energy as ‘‘vibration problems’’, was far more serious and highlighted major flaws in safety procedures, according to a nuclear watchdog report finally released last week.
The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) has criticised managers at Torness for staff cutbacks, ‘‘ignorance’’, ‘‘communication problems’’ and failing to give safety a high priority. Some of the information the company provided to investigators was said to be “inaccurate or inconsistent”.
SECRECY and political interference ensured that the UK's plans for disposing of its nuclear waste ended in failure. That is the verdict of a soul-searching report by Nirex, the government agency reponsible. It was published last week in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by New Scientist and others.
IT WOULD be difficult to think up a worse way of deciding where to put your nuclear waste. First, conduct the process in secret: lock the project's scientists behind closed doors and do not allow them to publish to their peers. Then, abandon science as a way to select suitable sites and choose instead a politically convenient location near a nuclear plant.
From the window of his home on Barra, Donald Manford can see the small island of Fuday across the water. On Friday evening, he said, it was looking "peaceful and unperturbed - quite unaware of all the controversy that has been going on about it."
Fuday, just 250 hectares of rough grazing, shot into the headlines last week after it was outed as one of five sites in Scotland shortlisted as a potential dump for all Britain's nuclear waste. Unknown to anyone, the UK radioactive waste agency, Nirex, had planned to dig 26 huge caverns 500 metres under the island, along with a new harbour and causeway.
Unluckily for Barra and its thousand plus inhabitants, Nirex also had similar, secret plans for the island of Sandray just to the south, costing £1.8 billion over 50 years. "People are appalled that such things were considered," said Manford, the local councillor.
"That this organisation could talk about these things, organising, planning and plotting with peoples' lives without telling them - I think it is obscene."
A SHORTLIST of a dozen potential dumps for dangerous nuclear waste that has been kept secret for more than 15 years has today been unveiled in response to a freedom of Information request from the Sunday Herald.
The highly sensitive shortlist of 12 sites where the UK nuclear industry wanted to dispose of its dangerous radioactive waste has been unveiled after being kept a closely guarded state secret for more than 15 years.