Convener Alexander J

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Convener Alexander J Powered By Docstoc
					Convener: Alexander J. Cluness                                 Town Hall
                                                               ZE1 0HB
Mr Ross Finnie MSP
Minister for the Environment and Rural Development
Scottish Parliament                                            Telephone: 01595 693535
EDINBURGH                                                      Fax: 01595 744521
EH99 1SP

                                                               If calling please ask for
                                                               Sandy Cluness
                                                               Direct Dial: 01595 744501

Our Ref: AJC/MC/IS4                                            Date: 01   April 2005
Your Ref:

Dear Minister,

As you will be aware, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has approved the
application from the UKAEA to transfer low-level waste from Dounreay to Drigg and
Sellafield following a public consultation and has sent its recommendation to the Scottish
Executive for approval.

Shetland Islands Council believes there are serious weaknesses in this proposal and that
there have been highly significant developments since the UKAEA made its application. We
believe that these weaknesses would justify your rejection of the recommendation. As an
alternative, the Council suggests that you formally call-in this application on the basis of the
weaknesses, new developments and genuine concerns that need to be taken into

We set out our arguments in detail in this letter. In summary:

      The UKAEA is itself opposed to transferring LLW to Drigg but was pressurised into
       making this application by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in order to gain
       operating consent for the WRACS super-compaction facility

      The UK Government and Scottish Executive's new policy on decommissioning
       nuclear sites supersedes the policies relied upon by the NII and SEPA and
       specifically accepts the need for the current practice at Dounreay, the temporary
       storage of wastes

      The timetable for decommissioning Dounreay has been revised twice since the
       original application was made by UKAEA and the new plans change the arguments
       relied upon in the application

      The 'justification' for the practice, required by European regulation, is inadequate and
       out of date

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      It is irresponsible and unnecessary to 'export' Dounreay's LLW waste problem, so
       imposing a burden on communities that have not benefited from the practices that
       generated the waste

      In the UKAEA stakeholder procedure and consultations by the UKAEA and SEPA
       there has been little if any support for transferring waste to Drigg instead of managing
       LLW on-site

      There is now the possibility of the UKAEA using Drigg as a permanent route for LLW
       - not the interim measure applied for

      Any decision on the management of LLW at Dounreay should await the current UK
       Government and devolved administrations' review of low-level radioactive waste
       management policy

      The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority takes over ownership of Dounreay on 1st
       April 2005 and it should be given the opportunity to reconsider the LLW strategy for
       the site

      The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan is to be completely reviewed in 2005 and the
       UKAEA is to involve stakeholders in this process for the first time

The proposal will not solve, even temporarily, the LLW problem at Dounreay. Only some
LLW is the subject of this application. The bulk of the LLW will still be stored temporarily on-

The proposal has been rejected by the UKAEA's own internal and external consultation
process. The operator's LLW BPEO study, that was completed and subject to public
consultation after this application was made, also favours management on-site and ,whilst
SEPA has not published details of the responses to its consultation, the Council believes
that the overwhelming majority of responses will also have rejected the proposal in favour of
an on-site solution.

What is unusual about this application is that those opposing it, like the Council, are arguing
for the waste to be managed where it was produced. It is the opposite of the so-called 'not
in my back yard' or NIMBY response. Instead the Highlands and Islands are arguing for a
mature and sensible approach to this problem and are accepting responsibility for the
wastes generated by past activities.

However, the Council's opposition to any wastes being 'imported' into Dounreay for
management or treatment from any other site, or from overseas, cannot be stressed too

Instead of approving this divisive and backward proposal, Ministers should call on the
UKAEA, regulators and stakeholders to concentrate on solving Dounreay's undoubted LLW
problem using on-site facilities as recommended in the operator's Best Practicable
Environment Option study that has received wide spread support in public consultations.

As mentioned earlier, there have been a number of significant developments since this
application was made.

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The revised timescale for decommissioning Dounreay announced by the UKAEA in March
2004 and detailed in the 'Near Work Plan, Annex 3: Dounreay Site Summary' was published
shortly after the consultation closed and appears to represent a substantive change
regarding the management and production of low level wastes at Dounreay. The UKAEA
has also completed its consultation on its LLW and published its long-term management

The timescale for the completion of the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan has been brought
forward from 2063 to 2047 and a licence application and planning application for a new low
level waste facility at Dounreay are now expected in little over a year.

The Council would also respectfully draw your attention to the letter from SEPA to the DTI
dated 24th February 2004 (the day after the consultation on the UKAEA application ended)
in response to the Public Consultation on Modernising the Policy for Decommissioning the
UK's Nuclear Facilities (SEPA reference JCG/GHI/JG/JW).

In this letter SEPA chief executive Campbell Gemmell draws particular attention to the
necessity of making the "most appropriate use of the limited remaining capacity at the
national LLW disposal facility at Drigg".

Mr Gemmell stated later in SEPA's formal response that:

     "SEPA would suggest that the decommissioning policy should include recognition that
     waste management options need to be considered in the context of environmental
     justice, which requires an assessment of whether environmental burdens are falling
     disproportionately on particular sectors of society. This process would require full
     provision of environmental information and the involvement of communities in
     decision-making. It also requires recognition of potential adverse impacts on health
     and quality of life, including perceived impacts which may have manifest expression, in
     relation to other potential benefits to the social and economic needs of the area."

The Council believes this statement of SEPA policy has important implications for this

In terms of "environmental justice" the Council believes it wrong to impose a burden on
Drigg and the surrounding communities that have not benefited from any of the activities
that produced the LLW at Dounreay. In addition the Council understands the communities
and local authorities concerned with Drigg were not directly involved in the consultation as
formal consultees which is in contradiction to SEPA's views as stated above.

The Council believes the new timetable for decommissioning work and SEPA's response to
the DTI consultation on the review of the UK's policy for decommissioning nuclear facilities
represent significant changes against which it is necessary to re-examine the UKAEA's
case for transferring LLW to Drigg and Sellafield and also to re-examine the attitudes of the
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate which has been the primary driving force behind this
proposal since its inception.

The proposal to transfer only some of Dounreay's LLW to Drigg is based solely on a narrow
and out-dated interpretation of UK Government and Scottish Executive policy on managing

                                                                                    Page 3 of 8
radioactive waste. This is illustrated clearly by the main SEPA Board's reason in February
2005 for approving the application and recommending it to Ministers:

       "The transfer of low level radioactive waste from nuclear sites to British Nuclear
       Fuels for disposal at Drigg is in line with current Government Policy. SEPA has
       concluded that UKAEA’s application to transfer low level radioactive waste to British
       Nuclear Fuels is in accordance with that policy and accords with current waste
       management practices in the UK."

The Council notes that SEPA refers here to "nuclear sites", ignoring the fact that Dounreay
is unique among all other UK nuclear sites in managing its LLW on-site, rather than
transferring it to Drigg.

The Council argues the relevant policy has changed with the new 'Decommissioning of the
UK Nuclear Industry's Facilities policy' that has been adopted by the UK Government and
the devolved administrations, including the Scottish Executive.

This new policy "updates and replaces" the relevant paragraphs on the 'Review of
Radioactive Waste Management Policy Final Conclusions' (Cm 2919) published in July
1995 and used by the NII as the basis for pursuing the option of transferring waste to Drigg,
and SEPA in making its recommendations on this application.

The reason for this application and all references to the Drigg option in the NII Safety Audit,
subsequent reports, the application by UKAEA and SEPA's decision is the NII's contention
that the current practice of interim storage of LLW at Dounreay is contrary to Government
(and Scottish Executive) policy. If this is not the case, the sole reasoning for the application
evaporates and it should be rejected.

The consultation paper on the Executive's proposed decommissioning policy, in the chapter
'The Government's proposals', section 20, states:

     "The Government make clear that, given the long time scales for
     identifying and implementing final management solutions for radioactive wastes,
     interim storage will become increasingly important, and increasing amounts of arising
     wastes may need to be stored in passively safe forms."

The new policy itself states in Section 9:

     "Until long-term management solutions have been identified, some of the wastes
     arising from decommissioning will need to be stored and initially operators are likely to
     be packaging and treating decommissioning wastes for storage rather than for

The new policy clearly contradicts the argument that the interim storage of LLW at
Dounreay is contrary to Government and Scottish Executive policies. The new policy
specifically allows for and accepts the need for practices such as the interim storage of LLW
at Dounreay pending the provision of a long-term management solution, i.e. a new on-site
LLW facility.

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The decommissioning of Dounreay is the largest such project in the UK and it would be
perverse not to consider that project, and this proposal in particular, in the light of the
Scottish Executive's new policy on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

The Scottish Executive's new policy for decommissioning nuclear facilities states:

       "Operators’ decommissioning strategies will need to take into account relevant
       developments in UK radioactive waste management policy."

The SIC believes that the decommissioning strategy for Dounreay and the DSRP needs to
be re-considered in the light of this new decommissioning policy. This re-consideration of
the DSRP must also include consideration of the production of LLW while "an appropriate
management solution" is not available. Indeed the Council has been told by the UKAEA
that the DSRP is to be reconsidered and up-dated this year and stakeholders are to be
involved in this process from an early stage.

The Council would now like to turn to a number of other specific issues concerning this
application and its approval by SEPA, all of which support its contention that this application
should either be refused or called-in.

To satisfy the legal requirement to provide 'Justification' for the practice applied for SEPA
relies on a six year old analysis entitled 'Decision by SEPA on the Application from UKAEA
to Dispose of Radioactive Wastes from Dounreay, Caithness, Scotland. SEPA, Stirling,
February 1999' that forms Paper 3 of the current decision documentation.

This 'Justification' is based on an operational nuclear site, with six "specific practices", all of
them commercial activities, such as reprocessing UK and foreign fuels, but not including
"Decommissioning". In this 1999 'Justification' the decommissioning of the site warranted
just one paragraph and refers to the "many waste management plants that are available on
the Dounreay site."

The Council submits that this Justification fails to meet the legal criteria as it omits any direct
or indirect reference to the activity, which activity that is the subject of this application.

We now refer to the correspondence between the Scottish Executive's Environment Group
and SEPA, which is included in the SEPA documentation. The letters from Dr Hall (9th May
and 14th October 2003) and SEPA's reply (30th July 2003) raise fundamental issues that
again support the Council's concerns.

The Executive's letters show its clear understanding that this application represents a
temporary measure. The 9th May letter sought clarification of the timeframe involved but
this was not directly answered in SEPA's reply of 30th July 2003.            Nevertheless the
Executive's letter of 14th October stated; "...this is of course an interim measure..." Indeed
the UKAEA stated this was an interim measure in its application. However, the UKAEA has
now raised the possibility that the transfer of wastes to Drigg might continue after a new
facility is provided at Dounreay. The UKAEA's recently published 'briefing' on solid LLW
states: "alternatively, it could mean some of [the waste] continues to go to Drigg once a new
facility is available."

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The Council believes this raises significant doubt over the basis for this application and
consultation. It appears that the UKAEA is considering the use of Drigg as a possible
permanent measure - in contradiction to the clear statements in the Executive's letters
referred to above.

The Council also believes a number of other questions in the Executive's letter of 9th May
were not adequately answered in SEPA's reply. For example, the question of why a "short-
term" disposal route is being sought when the DSRP assumes a new LLW facility being built
at Dounreay is not answered in SEPA's reply.

The timing of this application is also of concern. The new Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority takes over responsibility for Dounreay on 1st April and it should be given the
opportunity to review the site's LLW strategy. As mentioned earlier, it is also proposed to
review the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan this year and this will obviously include all waste
strategies. Finally the UK Government and the devolved administrations are currently
undertaking a review of low level radioactive waste management policy.

This Council, like many others, has struggled to understand the logic behind this application
from the UKAEA as it does not solve, even temporarily, the LLW problem at Dounreay.
Outside of the HSE/NII there is little or no support for it, including we believe little
enthusiasm from the UKAEA that would much prefer to deal with the waste on-site.

The Council believes the UKAEA may have been pressurised into making this application
by the NII - and the UKAEA itself would prefer to deal with all wastes on-site and not to have
had to make this application.

The UKAEA Dounreay director, Mr Norman Harrison, at a meeting with the Council (12th
August 2004), confirmed that it was the Authority's preferred option to manage all wastes at
Dounreay and stakeholders had supported this in the consultation processes. However he
said one regulator had withheld operating consent for a vital waste facility until the Authority
agreed to apply for authorisation to transfer waste to Drigg.

From our analysis of the background to this application and the decision documents and our
formal and informal contacts with the UKAEA and regulators the Council believes the
UKAEA felt it necessary to accede to the NII's pressure and apply for authorisation to
transfer wastes to Drigg primarily because of concerns over the licensing of the Waste
Receipt, Assay, Characterisation and Super-compaction (WRACS) facility.

Our understanding is that in the summer of 2001 the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of
the Health and Safety Executive was withholding operating consent for the WRACS facility
until the UKAEA agreed to pursue the Drigg option. The UKAEA felt that the WRACS
super-compactation plant was so vital to its waste strategy that it had no option but to give
such a commitment to the HSE/NII. This is referred to in Section 2.5 and 2.6 of SEPA's
Paper 1, Background to the Application'.

The Council understanding is that HSE/NII was concerned the new facility might close off
the Drigg option - unless the UKAEA gave a commitment before the WRACS operating
consent was given.

                                                                                       Page 6 of 8
The Council believes this background to the application was never presented to the public
and undermines the validity of the application and the consultation process. This strongly
supports the arguments presented by the Council that this application flies in the face of
sensible waste management, current UK Government and Scottish Executive policy on
decommissioning nuclear sites, and places an unacceptable burden on communities that
have received no benefit from the practices that resulted in the production of the wastes, i.e.
Cumbria and the communities along the waste transport route(s).

In addition this application undermines the bold attempts by the UKAEA at Dounreay to
restore public confidence and public support, in particular its recent acceptance of much
greater stakeholders involvement. There is no support for this proposal from stakeholders,
the public or indeed from the applicants.

The Council, like others opposed to this application, fully accepts the need to manage
wastes at Dounreay safety and responsibly. However, the Council strongly restates its
position that wastes should not be exported or imported to and from the site. Dounreay is
unique in always having managed its own LLW. This practice should continue and the
Scottish Executive now has the chance to ensure the efforts of all concerned, including
stakeholders, is concentrated on managing the wastes safely and responsibly at Dounreay
and ensuring a new facility is provided as soon as practically possible. There would be
tremendous goodwill for such a move that could represent a milestone in Dounreay's
relationship with its local and regional neighbours.

Finally the Council would be happy to meet with you and your officials to discuss this vital

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Sandy Cluness


SIC Submission to SEPA on UKAEA application
SIC Statement of Principles


         Mr Tavish Scott MSP
         Mr Alistair Carmichael MEP
         Cumbria County Council - Mr John Hetherington, Department of Economy, Culture
          and Environment, Cumbria County Council, The Courts, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 8NA
         Copeland Borough Council Mr Fergus McMorrow, Copeland Borough Council
          Catherine Street, Whitehaven, CA28 7NY
         NFLA Manchester – Mr Stewart Kemp Manchester City Council, Town Hall,
          Manchester, M60 3NY

                                                                                      Page 7 of 8
      NFLA Scotland - Ms Cathy Birrell, Glasgow City Council, Legal and Administrative
       Services, City Chambers, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 1DU
      Mrs June Love – UKAEA Dounreay, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, KW14 7TX
      NENIG -
      Convenors of Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council, Western Islands Council
      Media list........

Over-arching principles

In considering activities at Dounreay the Council starts from a position of the following over-
arching principles, which have been used in various submissions:

       ► The Council rejects the idea that radioactive waste can be “disposed” of. Instead,
       the Council considers the issue to be one of management

       ► The Council opposes any process or activity that involves new or additional
       radioactive discharges into the environment, as this is potentially harmful to the
       human and natural environment

       ► The Council rejects the policy of 'dilute and disperse' as a form of radioactive
       waste management, preferring instead a policy of 'concentrate and contain'

       ► The Council supports the principle of waste minimisation

       ► The Council is opposed to the unnecessary transport of radioactive and other
       hazardous wastes

       ► The Council believes wastes should ideally be managed on-site where produced
       (or as near as possible to the site)

       ► The Council accepts the need for the wastes and contamination at Dounreay to be
       dealt with responsibly and in accordance with the above principles. It is opposed to
       'exporting' wastes so that they become the problem of other communities as much as
       it is opposed to Dounreay being used for the treatment or management of wastes
       from any other sites

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