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Statement on Nuclear Waste and Safety Conference, Sellafield 1 June 2012

Statement by Álfheidur Ingadottir, Iceland, Jan Lindholm, Sweden and Kim Kielsen, Greenland, Members the Nordic Council , participating in the InfoArena 2012 Nuclear Waste and Safety Conference, held in Sellafield 1 June 2012, on the behalf of the Nordic Council Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

  1. Nuclear safety has over the years been on the Agenda of the Nordic Council, in particular in connection with the reprocessing of nuclear waste in Sellafield and radioactive waste deposits in the oceans north of Russia.
  2. We commend the organiser of this Conference, InfoArena 2012 Nuclear Waste and Safety Conference, and express support for the continuation of a dialogue on nuclear safety issues between politicians, public authorities and organisations. 
  3. Over a year has passed since the devastating disaster in Fukushima in Japan where the world was reminded that on the basis of current know how, full control of nuclear safety is not possible. The operations in Sellafield have not and will not be an exception to human mistakes. Sellafield could potentially also be subjected to natural disaster.
  4. History shows that a number of mistakes have been made in the operation in Sellafield with negative environmental consequences. The Nordic Council acknowledges the many safety improvements that have been made in recent years. However, the risk has not been eliminated.  Reprocessing nuclear waste is a potential threat, and, therefore, all efforts should be made to find secure final storage solutions. Reprocessing should not be part of the waste-management handling. Both Sweden and Finland that have nuclear power production have recognised this. No long term solution for safe reprocessing is on the horizon.
  5. The only responsible approach by the British Government is to develop a plan for closing down all reprocessing operations in Sellafield. Until the operations have stopped, the Nordic Council will be calling on the British Government to do so.
  6. The Nordic Council welcomes the proposal made by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in UK to end reprocessing at THORP by 2018 and not to enter into new contracts for receiving radioactive waste. The Nordic Council requests a clear commitment and a plan to reduce the current storage of liquid highly radioactive waste that is currently in Sellafield. Some of the tanks are of considerable age and should have been taken out of operation many years ago.
  7. The Irish Sea has been described as one of the most contaminated marine ecosystems in the world with high level and inventories of various long-lived radionuclides in sediments. The Nordic Council   finds it important to clarify the extension of these contaminants. Furthermore, it is of outmost importance to know how stable these highly contaminated deposits are. We call on the British Government to clarify the extension of the contamination of the sediments in the Irish Sea and carry out an investigation into how stable the sediments are where the contaminants are located.

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