LETTER: We must learn the lessons of Aberfan

Aberfan disaster happened 50 years ago

Aberfan disaster happened 50 years ago - Credit: Archant

We have just been reminded of the terrible disaster that happened 50 years ago at Aberfan, when 116 children and 28 adults were killed as a result of coal waste, that had been disposed of at the top of a mountain came sliding down and destroying a school.

A lesson was learnt, and steps were taken to make sure a similar accident would never ever happen again.

Fifty years ago we started producing power from nuclear power stations and this has been welcomed as clean energy in the light of climate change and our efforts to combat it.

But like the coal mines they too produce waste at three different levels and all of it is very harmful.

So far after 50 years no one has come up with a solution to safely get rid of it, so like the coal waste sitting on top of a mountain, this mountain of nuclear waste is growing in quantity waiting for some way to dispose of it safely.

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It is calculated by 2030 Britain will have generated approximately 1.4 million cubic metres of low level waste, 260,000 cubic metres of intermediate waste and 3,000 cubic metres of high level waste. In terms of the total amount of radioactivity, however, high level waste is the largest category.

All this waste must ultimately be disposed of somewhere, or stored in perpetuity.

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Ignoring the problem is not an option, the waste now exists and is growing, and needs proactive management.

It will not go away on its own. Some suggestions put forward were to load the waste into space rockets and fire it into the Sun, or place it on one of the polar ice caps and let the heat of the waste take it down to the core of the earth.

Both were rejected in case the rockets failed and the ice caps are forbidden areas for certain activities.

Now is the time for the general public to be told after 50 years of nuclear production and the creation of mountains of waste, what on earth are we going to do with this dangerous hazard?

Surely Aberfan is a wake-up call.


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