September 2, 2008

Nuclear Storage Bid Enters Mine Fracas

By Smulian, Mark

Waste management firm Sita wants to bury radioactive residue in a derelict mine that is already at the centre of a dispute between its owners and local authority planners. The company said it might buy 50ha of former opencast coal mine at Keekle Head near Sellafield to deposit the "very low-level" waste. The designation typically applies to conventional building materials from nuclear sites, not nuclear waste itself.

Sita's plan has stoked fears that the area will receive more waste if the government succeeds in its plans to revive the nuclear industry. Local councillor Willis Metherell said: "My concern is about the effect this would have on the environment of the two nearby villages."

Sita regional general manager Phil Holland said he has had informal talks with council members and planners. "Mining on the site has created a substantial void which is ideal for the disposal of waste materials," he said. "We have the experience and expertise to landfill and then restore Keekle Head to its use as heathland habitat."

But Cumbria County Council is mired in a dispute with the site's various owners over their failure to restore it after mining ended. A spokesman said: "Our main priority is for the owners of the land to restore it to its original condition as outlined in the planning permission. They are legally obliged to do so regardless of any proposals they may be considering."

Last autumn, the council served a planning contravention notice on the owners and a committee authorised enforcement action.

Keekle Head: restoration of opencast mine site disputed

Copyright Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Aug 8, 2008

(c) 2008 Planning. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.