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NIREX fiasco

Sir, As a former mining geologist for the Beckermet Iron Ore Mines in West Cumbria, I was surprised that Nirex even considered the Sellafield area as a possible site for nuclear waste disposal (Fallout over radwaste – Geoscientist 23.11).  All the evidence from underground iron ore mining in the mines only a few kilometres north and east of the site indicated that there was a major problem with groundwater to the south and west of the mine workings.  In particular, attempts to mine at Whangs, west of Egremont, had to be abandoned due to the inability to cope with the inflow of water, while at Beckermet Mine itself, westward exploration along the West Drifts encountered a fault zone carrying so much water that the drifts had to be sealed with concrete dams in order to protect the rest of the mine. 

All this was well known to the West Cumbrian mining and geological community and seems to have been completely ignored by Nirex, who then went on to waste £400M of taxpayers’ money on an ill-considered proposal with more political than geological justification.

Dave Greenwood was British Steel Mine Geologist, 1967-1981