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UK gov plans to bury nuclear waste

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The government said today that it plans to bury Britain's nuclear waste. Speaking in the House of Commons, environment secretary David Miliband told MPs that waste will not be forced on communities, instead, local authorities will be invited to volunteer sites, the BBC reports.

"We have made it clear that we are not seeking to impose radioactive waste on any community," he said. "Governments of all parties have struggled to develop a long term approach to this issue...I believe my statement today combines scientific rigour and clear accountability."

Opposition MPs criticised the announcement, however, saying the government had not actually guaranteed it would not impose the waste on a community, if a suitable site was not found.

Burying nuclear waste has been proposed before, only to be abandoned because people are strangely resistant to the idea of living on top of a smouldering pile of depleted fuel rods.

Building a safe storage depot for nuclear waste is a Herculean task. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, in its report published this summer, said waste would need to be buried at least 500ft below the ground, and the BBC reports estimates of 40 years and billions of pounds to complete the facility.

So, the "winning" councils will gain hugely if they are chosen, the multi-million pound investment required will surely prove a strong incentive for councils struggling to make ends meet.

Miliband is also referring to the process as "geological disposal" instead of "burying nuclear waste", presumably in an effort to make the whole idea more attractive.

He also stressed that only those sites that are geologically suitable would be considered, something one would hope was not subject to much negotiation during the planning meetings. ®

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