Britain’s only working salt mine is to be partly turned into a giant toxic waste tip to avert a predicted crisis later this year when most existing overground sites will be forced to close.
The Guardian reports that the 170 metres (550ft) deep mine, near Winsford in Cheshire, currently used to mine rock salt used on icy roads, has been given permission by the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, to indefinitely store 2m tonnes of toxic waste over the next 20 years. It will include incinerator and heavy industry waste and asbestos, but no liquids.
The mine is a godsend to the government and industry, which urgently need new sites to dump waste, because of its size and geology. The cool, dry caverns and galleries stretch over five square miles along 118 miles of 25ft-high, 75ft-wide corridors – an area large enough in theory to take most of Britain’s toxic waste for sev eral generations. Less than 8% of the mine’s 23m cubic metres of space is expected to be filled with waste by 2024.
The decision to create Britain’s first new underground toxic tip in years follows a public inquiry which gave the go-ahead to the plan two years ago. Permission was revoked, however, after the office of the deputy prime minister inadvertently gave permission for all Cheshire’s mines to take waste. That ruling has now been overturned following written submissions to Mr Prescott.
But opponents of the plan in nearby villages yesterday vowed to keep fighting the development.
“The government wants this because their recycling policies have not worked. We fear that waste will be brought in from abroad and that this is just the start,” said Laura Williams of a local pressure group, Residents Against Mine Pollution.
“There are thousands of residents close by. There will be noise, dust and fumes from more than 300 movements of heavy lorries a week. There’s a real possibility of underground spillages. We just don’t know what will end up down there. It could be a time bomb.” The caverns could be used for many other purposes, she added.
However, Roger Shaw, managing director of Minosus, the joint venture company between subsidiaries of French and US multinationals Vivendi and AML, yesterday tried to allay fears: “I understand their concerns. They fear that this is a Trojan horse and that we want to expand, but we have no intention of that. We will set up a rigorous monitoring system and will not be taking any waste that is flammable, volatile or gives off a gas.”
Britain faces a huge shortage of hazardous and toxic waste disposal facilities after July when EU law will stop it being mixed with household rubbish in landfill sites. More than 200 hazardous waste sites will be closed, leaving only 16 in the UK. Last year 2.1m tonnes of hazardous waste was landfilled in Britain.
But as overground sites dry up, old Cheshire salt workings are becoming increasingly attractive to businesses. ICI has long dumped its toxic waste from nearby chemical works at Holford Brine Fields, near Winsford, and Scottish Power wants permission to store natural gas in old workings near Middlewich.
Meanwhile, the dry, cool atmosphere of the mines makes them ideal for storing documents, and both national and local government records are stored in the Winsford salt mine
|Ano da Publicação:||2004|
|Fonte:||WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #01-2004: January 18, 2004|
|Autor:||Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin|
|Email do Autor:||email@example.com|