Why was Sellafield rejected as a disposal site for radioactive waste?

March 17th 1997 may be remembered by most people in Britain for the announcement of the general election. But for the nuclear industry, this was the day that their waste disposal plans fell apart. A planning Inspector and his team had undertaken a local planning inquiry, examined the evidence put forward by Nirex for continued development leading towards an underground radioactive waste repository site near Sellafield, and had decisively rejected the Nirex proposals. Amongst the reasons specific to the Inspector’s rejection was Nirex’s poor understanding of the geology and hydrogeology of its proposed site. How did this come about, and how did Nirex come unstuck so badly, after spending some £400M derived from public companies?

By Stuart Haszeldine and David Smythe, University of Glasgow. Geoscientist, vol. 7 no. 7, pp 18-20 (1997)

Other papers by Professor David Smythe are available here.

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