We are puzzled by Professor Gordon MacKerron’s view that, in the light of the Environment Agency’s research, we should dispose of waste as quickly as possible (“Nuclear waste containers likely to fail”, 24 August). There are two important differences between keeping waste drums above ground in a dry environment, while technical uncertainties are examined; and the conditions for the waste, should it be quickly buried. First, buried drums would immediately become saturated as ground water inundated the disposal facility, so any soluble radioactivity would readily be carried away towards drinking water supplies and surface crops. Second, drums stored above ground are accessible and can therefore easily be repackaged, a process that would not be possible for wastes cemented into a leaking repository half a mile underground. It is imperative that the implications of a hurried and potentially irreversible approach to the decisions concerning nuclear waste are fully appreciated in order that the wellbeing of people in the future is not put in jeopardy.
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