The UK government has published recently details on its ongoing investigations into siting nuclear waste dumps in Northern Ireland.
In it’s examination, published online on the 19th December, Northern Ireland is divided up into 4 sub regions.
The website states that in Sub-region 2 pictured above
Our work shows that we may find a suitable geological setting for a GDF in a small part of this subregion.
Rock can be seen at the surface in some of this subregion such as sea cliffs, inland cliffs in the Mourne Mountains and the Ring of Gullion and in man-made excavations such as quarries or road cuttings. Combined with some deep boreholes and geophysical investigations, this gives us an understanding of the rocks present and their distribution.
There are various types of gaps in our understanding of geology and we deal with these gaps in a number of ways.
There are granites and similar strong rocks around Newry, in which we may be able to site a GDF. We would need to do more work to find out whether these rocks have suitable properties and thicknesses in the depth range of interest for a GDF.
The video below describes the examination of geology for suitable places to bury nuclear waste generated outside of Northern Ireland.
Full details of the geological surveys underway can be found here
Whilst the initial response to the publishing of this information was muted – likely due to a focus on Brexit and the lack of coverage of relatively obscure government websites, this has changed over the few days.
The Irish New reports
The video sparked a response from political representatives in south Down after the granite-rich area around Newry was earmarked by Ms Shelton as a potential location for a “geological disposal facility”.
She said more work was needed to establish whether conditions are suitable.
But Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard said any proposal to locate a site in parts of Co Down and Co Armagh was “totally unacceptable”.
“Britain cannot use the north as a dumping ground for this hazardous and toxic material – not only would this have dire consequences for our environment but it would also pose a serious health risk to the population,” he said.
SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said the proposal outlined in the video “beggars belief”.
“Our areas of outstanding natural beauty and of significant environmental importance cannot become dumping grounds for British nuclear waste,” he said.
“We have been subjected to years of abnormal radioactive levels given our proximity to Sellafield and this news that government agencies have been poking around our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to find holes for nuclear waste is beyond comprehension.”
On Twitter, RARE – Rostrevor Action Respecting the Environment have noted that nuclear energy is not a devolved matter for the Stormont Assembly according to stated policy in 2001.
A local council meeting of Newry, Mourne & Gullion this week passed a cross party emergency motion ” in opposition to Newry Mourne and Down being used as a Geological Disposal Facility” and called “on the other 10 Councils to follow our lead and oppose any move by the British Government to use Ireland as its nuclear waste bin!”
The Newry Democrat reports
Speaking to The Newry Democrat today (Tuesday), Councillor Trainor explained that while a cross-party motion is rare in NMDC, it was important that “politics was left to the side” on such an important issue.
“This is something where all councillors came together and supported it,” he said. “It’s a cross-party motion and I think that’s the important message going forward.
“There was a clear message sent out last night that people were leaving politics at the door and everyone was pushing ahead on the issue.
“There was a clear message sent out that the council doesn’t support it and objects to the facility being situated here in Newry, Mourne and Down.
“There is a question over people and their faith in the council so last night was a statement to residents to reassure them that the council is working for them and the council is representing their views.
“It was also a message to the Minister [for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy] to say that the council will not have a GDF in the area and the council doesn’t consent to it.”
A community group ‘Can’t Fathom It’ – set up ‘to defend Fathom Mountain against SSR (Southern Relief Road) proposed and protect the rights of the people that will be affected by it’m yesterday posted on Facebook.
As a group, we have suspected for some time that the reasons for the building of the Southern Relief Road and the expansion of Warrenpoint Port have far more to do with facilitating the dumping of Nuclear Waste in our beautiful mountains rather than to bring significant economic benefits to the people of Newry and the surrounding area. The numbers just didn’t add up from their justification.
Newry, Mourne & Down Council’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee Minutes from March 22nd 2018 included a copy of the agreement form to allow consultation by the UK Government on GDF Nuclear Waste Disposal in the council area and it is since then that we have seen the long discussed plans for the Southern Relief Road receiving serious consideration and offers of funding, including from the UK Government.
Many across the country will be watching how this develops