Nuclear waste project under pressure as advisor resigns

By staff writers
November 5, 2009

The resignation of an advisor who accused the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of “ignoring its own advisory group” has called into question the future of a project aimed at dismantling nuclear submarines at a plant in central Plymouth.

The project has already attracted strong criticism from local residents, NGOs and the leader of Plymouth City Council. Hundreds of people marched through Plymouth last weekend to oppose the use of a city-centre location for the site.

Peter Lanyon, an advisor representing NGOs on the project's consultation group, resigned from the group in protest at the sacking of two other advisors, Jane Hunt and Bill Thompson.

Hunt and Thompson are academics specialising in public consultation, based at Lancaster University's Centre for the Study of Environmental Change.

“The integrity of the project, any openness, transparency and accountability has disappeared,” said Lanyon, adding that "I can no longer bear to see taxpayers' money being spent on it".

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) today (5 November) urged the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, to guarantee that the public's opinion will be properly heard.

Campaigners suggest that the government’s new public consultation is an attempt to sidestep the results of the last one. When consulted in 2003, most residents insisted that "the management and storage of nuclear waste should not take place within a city, in close proximity to housing, schools and hospitals."

Tony Staunton, Secretary of Plymouth Trades Union Council, accused the government of “ignoring the voices of the public, and especially the people of Plymouth”.

“With our nearest primary school just 400 metres from radioactive contamination, there is outrage locally at Plymouth becoming the national centre for storing nuclear waste from obsolete submarines” he said.

If the plan gets the go-ahead, the radioactive waste could be stored for many decades at the site until a deep-level national waste-store for all nuclear materials is created.

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