03 November 2010

EU moves to lock down radioactive waste forever

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Europe's nuclear powers came under orders Wednesday to lock away forever lethal radioactive waste, as the European Commission warned of hopelessly inadequate disposal facilities

Half a century after atomic power was first produced in Britain, Europe's nuclear energy-producing countries stand accused of future negligence without a single "deep geological disposal" site equipped to withstand up to a million years of decay.

And so the European Union has tabled legislative proposals that would see states given a fixed deadline for building the kind of facility deep in the Earth's crust that scientists say is the only way to protect nature's balance.

"We have to make sure that we have the highest safety standards in the world to protect our citizens, our water and the ground against nuclear contamination," said EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, as he set out a string of demands.

"Safety is indivisible. If an accident happens in one country, it can have devastating effects also in others."

Within four years of Europe adopting the proposed legislation, states would have to nail down a "concrete timetable" for constructing these facilities, including "the financing schemes chosen."

Current schemes offering so-called "interim storage" are given a lifespan of "maximal 50-100 years," the commission said, meaning waste "has to be retrieved and repackaged."

(Nuclear Power Daily)

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