Why not Theddlethorpe?
The council and RWM tell us that the project would be good for the area, so is this just a matter of Not In My Back Yard? We don't think that is the case, in an ideal world there would be no Nuclear waste to worry about. Due, in the main, to the quest for weapons-grade Plutonium we have developed Nuclear power stations and from that point, we started generating highly dangerous waste. That's water under the bridge, the waste has been made and we've been looking at the arguments for putting it under the sea at Theddlethorpe.
It has to go somewhere
High level waste cooling in ponds at a surface storage facility.
Yes, of course, it does. Up until now, it has been stored at multiple locations around Britain in what are known as surface storage facilities. These are enormous concrete ponds full of water. These will remain, as their main purpose is to cool the waste. In fact, it stays there for twenty years before it is moved, usually to Sellafield, for reprocessing to remove the Plutonium and Uranium to make new fuel rods or for military use.
Reprocessing is now thought to be uneconomic. It also adds to the problem since it generates huge amounts of intermediate-level waste.
The international consensus is that the best thing to do is to put this High-Level waste into deep underground facilities. RWM has been tasked with finding a location for this Underground Dump. It is expected to hold all our current waste plus that generated over the next hundred years. Currently, only the USA have an active facility. It is only a pilot plant and in 2014 they had an accident that released Radioactive particles into the atmosphere. So far the cost to the US taxpayer of that accident is over $2 billion. Currently, the construction of a full-scale facility in the Yucca Mountains is on hold. However, a so-called Geological Disposal Facility is still seen as the safest thing to do with the waste that we will continue to generate for many years to come.
This material will stay dangerously active for up to 100,000 years so it has to be placed where the leakage will be minimised and there is zero chance of it being disturbed at a later date. The Lincolnshire coast fails on both counts.
So why not Theddlethorpe
Mainly it comes down to the geology of the sea bed. The GDF needs to be encased in solid rock, the more the better and that Rock needs to have no water coursing through it. Water could carry the Radioactive atoms with it through the rock and into the sea. There is Mudstone under the North Sea but it is not as thick as in other places on the English coast. It is topped with a layer of Kimmeridge clay. RWM say this layer of clay makes it suitable for a GDF. However, that makeup is also what has helped to hold gas and oil down there.
We know for sure that there are coal deposits deep beneath the East Coast. We also know that there is still gas down there. It may be uneconomic to get it out right now but who knows what future generations might be able to do. This means that, should a GDF be constructed out there, there is a real possibility that future civilisations might drill through the chambers of the dump in pursuit of the energy resources beneath. The environmental and human disaster this might cause is the reason that RWM state that a GDF should not be constructed in regions where there are significant carboniferous energy deposits. They also clearly state that deep drilling in the vicinity would also rule out a site because of the way that such drilling changes the watercourses in the rocks. Theddlethorpe has gas being extracted via deep boreholes at Saltfleetby and the seabed off the Lincolnshire coast has been drilled to death in the search for useable gas deposits.
All of this makes the Lincolnshire coast a very poor candidate for the construction of a GDF. The fact that RWM is even considering it would seem to indicate that RWM has a target number of communities to engage with and Theddlethorpe has been added just to make up the numbers.
But it will bring thousands of well paid jobs for more than a century
This is classic PR speak. It’s very misleading. If the facility is built it will not provide thousands of jobs for the whole of its one hundred year life. What they are quoting is the total number of people employed over the whole century and they won't all be in the vicinity of the dump.
The construction of the facility will provide a large number of jobs but few for local people. The project will be awarded to one or two of the very large contractors and they will bring in their own people. Local people might pick up some of the minor surface jobs like dumper driving but the big bucks will go to the men and women brought in from far and wide.
Once the facility is operational it will be handed over to an outsourcing company like Mitie, which already runs Sellafield. Workers at Sellafield are currently taking strike action to get an increase on their £8.45 per hour. So much for well-paid jobs
It will bring money to the Town
It may, but not as much as you might think. RWM has compared the size of the project to that of the Channel Tunnel which seems like a fair comparison. When that project started the local people were given similar promises to those made by RWM. The reality was somewhat different.
Farthingloe Workers village, built to house workers from the Channel Tunnel.
The worker’s village, built to house the people working on the Channel Tunnel, had its own restaurants, pub and even a Chapel. They had no need to leave the village. Working twelve-hour shifts, they did fourteen days on and then went home for two weeks and that’s where their money was spent, at home. The businesses of the towns of Folkestone and Dover saw very little of the money. The construction workers at Hinkley point are working on a very similar basis.
Mablethorpe is highly dependent on tourism, something that doesn't sit well with having the nuclear industry as a neighbour. This is immediately noticeable at Sizewell where there is a very pleasant beach that is largely deserted and because of the lack of visitors, it has not been commercially exploited.
The north beach at Mablethorpe could suffer the same fate which would not bode well for the Haven site and Holivans both of which are there to exploit the miles of unspoilt sandy beach. If the Haven site, which is only 200 metres from the proposed site, were to close the town would lose millions of pounds from the local economy, not to mention their charitable donations.
The question is if the nuclear dump does come to Theddlethorpe would any income from it compensate for the losses from ten to fifteen years of uncertainty.
We'll get improved sea defences.
This is not even an argument. No one in their right mind would take it seriously.
Providing sea defences is the role of the council and The Environment Agency, not some unaccountable government-owned company. So what are they saying here? Are they saying "if you don't accept this nuclear dump we will allow the sea to drive you from your home"? No, of course, they are not because if they were we would all know that they weren't fit to hold office.
The Environment Agency's policy for our section of the coast is to "hold the line" meaning whatever needs to be done to prevent flooding will be done. If anyone tells you we need this dump in order to upgrade our sea defences they are either misinformed or lying.