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AWE Aldermaston – Enriched Uranium Facility (Project Pegasus)

AWE Aldermaston – Enriched Uranium Facility (Project Pegasus) Writing to West Berkshire Council about the planning application

How to have your say

Letters with comments about the planning application for the proposed new Enriched Uranium Facility (“Pegasus”) at AWE Aldermaston should be sent to:

Planning Department (Attention Mr Clive Inwards)
West Berkshire Council
Council Offices
Market Street
Newbury
Berkshire
RG14 5LD

Comments can be sent by email to planapps@westberks.gov.uk
or you can send your comments via the West Berkshire Council website at http://tr.im/HyxI

Please quote the following reference in your letter:09/02396/COMIND - Enriched Uranium Facility, AWE Aldermaston.

The closing date for comments is 15th January 2010.

The Planning Committee will not consider arguments that do not relate to planning issues.

If you live locally or have a local connection, please stress this so that the Committee understands how the development will affect you personally.

Suggested points to mention in your letter are highlighted in Bold Italics

Further information on each of these points is included in a briefing, see below

1. Safety and Risk

The Ministry of Defence’s planning application for Pegasus is accompanied by a 'Defence Exempt Environmental Appraisal' report, rather than a full Environmental Impact Assessment. /

 

The Defence Exempt
Environmental Appraisal report does not include key information about the processes, risks, and wastes associated with the proposed facility, or how radioactive and other toxic waste will be managed.

Enriched uranium is a radioactive, toxic metal. It is pyrophoric: it
rapidly oxidises and may ignite spontaneously in air, especially in a powdered form. Enriched uranium poses potential fire and radiation hazards. There is also the risk of a criticality accident, which can result if a nuclear chain reaction occurs accidentally in a fissile
substance such as enriched uranium.

The lack of information means that the Planning Committee and the public cannot make an independent judgement on whether the risks posed by the new Enriched Uranium Facility are acceptable or not


2. Radioactive Waste and sustainability

The Pegasus Enriched Uranium Facility (EUF) will manufacture products
made of uranium and generate both solid and liquid wastes contaminated
with uranium. The enriched uranium warhead components manufactured in
the facility will at the end of their life-cycle require treatment as waste. The EUF will generate low level and intermediate level solid
radioactive waste.

Although enriched uranium itself is a high cost
material which will be recovered and recycled from waste streams,
secondary wastes, residues, and items which have been in contact with
enriched uranium will remain and will qualify as radioactive wastes. The government has no strategy for the disposal of intermediate level
radioactive wastes. This waste would have to be stored on site at
Aldermaston indefinitely until a National Repository for intermediate
and high level radioactive wastes is constructed.

Manufacturing processes will generate liquid radioactive waste,
including oils contaminated with enriched uranium, for which there is no
known treatment and disposal route.

At the end of its life the EUF will require decommissioning and
dismantling. Equipment and areas of the building contaminated with
radioactive material will need to be treated as radioactive wastes.
Publicly available plans do not include a decommissioning strategy.

The Royal Commission’s 1976 study on Environmental Pollution's major
study into nuclear power and the environment, concluded it would be
“irresponsible and morally wrong” to commit future generations to the
consequences of dealing with nuclear legacies until a method exists to
ensure the safe containment of radioactive waste for the indefinite
future This principle was recently re-iterated by members of the
government's Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.



3. Public consultation


The MoD’s planning application states “Public consultation has been a
key aspect in the preparation of this planning application and is an
important element of the planning process”. They say that consultation
was carried out through publication of the AWE Site Development Strategy
Plan and its subsequent updates. However these documents provide no
substantial information about the EUF.

If you live locally (within the RG postcode area), please tell the
Committee where you live, and when and how you found out about the
Pegasus Application./*/ /(e.g from your parish council, local newspaper,
letter from the planning authority (as a previous complainant) from a
friend or neighbour).

If you live locally, we suggest you include any concerns you may have
about “Visual Intrusion” and “Construction Impacts” (see briefing for
further details).

If you do not live locally, please let the Committee know that this is
a Major Project, and part of a wider redevelopment of the site, and is
therefore of national as well as local concern. It is also of national
concern because of the lack of any national strategy for the management
and disposal of intermediate level solid radioactive waste and uranium
contaminated oil-based waste. No National Repository for intermediate
level radioactive waste exists, and the government has yet to identify a
site or define a design option for any such facility, but such a site
could be built anywhere in the UK.



4. Finally


Please call for the planning committee to refuse consent and for a public inquiry.

The Defence Exempt Statement makes it impossible for the Planning
Committee and the public to make an independent judgement on whether the
risks posed by the new Enriched Uranium Facility are acceptable or not.
This gives the Planning Committee grounds for refusing consent. If
consent is refused, the Ministry of Defence would have the option of
appealing against this decision, which would result in a public inquiry.