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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

First Minister questioned over waste disposal

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has today questioned the First Minister over what is being done in Wales to deal with radioactive waste.

According to the Welsh Government's Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste Consultation Document, 'Radioactive waste disposal is a devolved matter -the Welsh Government is responsible for determining the policy for this within Wales.'

In the Assembly Chamber this afternoon, Mr Isherwood asked Mark Drakeford what action is therefore being taken by the Welsh Government to dispose of this type of waste.

As you say, this is about higher-activity waste that's been accumulating over 60 years, and you referred to the Statement by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. I understand that she said a Geological Disposal Facility ‘provides a permanent solution to the long-term management of higher activity waste, rather than leaving the responsibility for future generations’.

“Given that the UK Government, through the Radioactive Waste Management Subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has carried out geological surveys, and has been carrying out consultation events in Swansea, Llandudno and six sites in England, what engagement are you having with those other potential six sites, where, as you said, there's a collective responsibility to address this, and geology will, ultimately, determine where it's safe to put this stuff?” 

The First Minister replied: “We will not, and have not identified such sites, and we don't intend to do so. It is for any local community that is willing to come forward to do so, and if no community comes forward, there will be no disposal here in Wales.

“Even if a community does come forward, there is a very strict and lengthy process, lasting up to 20 years, in which any initial expression of interest would have to be negotiated. That local community would have the right to withdraw from those discussions at any point in that 20-year process, and that process would come to an end. And as I said, any local authority within which such a community were located would have the power to over-ride that expression of interest by that local community by declaring that, as a local authority area, it is not prepared to see geological disposal within its boundaries.”

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