This double-issue of Nuclear Monitor is a series of six articles written by Prof. Andrew Blowers OBE, all concerned with nuclear waste. Andrew is Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at The Open University and is presently Co-Chair of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy / NGO Nuclear Forum. He was recently awarded the Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal by the American Geographical Society for his extensive contributions in the application of geographic principles to energy, planning, and humankind ‒ working in academia, politics, government, and in his retirement, as an anti-nuclear campaigner.
This series of articles draws on Andrew’s book The Legacy of Nuclear Power (Earthscan from Routledge, 2017). The articles were originally published in Town & Country Planning (www.tcpa.org.uk). Thanks to Andrew and Town & Country Planning for permission to reprint these articles, and to John Hunt for his maps and other assistance.
Landscapes of the legacy of nuclear power: Andrew Blowers considers how nuclear communities have developed, why they are where they are, and what their future prospects are.
Hanford, the nuclear frontier: Hanford in Washington state ‒ a semi-desert region with homesteads of settlers and homelands of Native Americans ‒ was transformed into the heart of the US nuclear weapons program, and thus into a nuclear wasteland.
Sellafield, Britain’s nuclear heartland: Sellafield’s abundant and varied nuclear waste stockpiles (including a plutonium stockpile) comprise wastes arising from the plant’s initial military function and subsequently wastes mainly derived from reprocessing spent fuel.
France, the core on the periphery: La Hague and Bure ‒ two places with a crucial role in the storage and disposal of France’s more highly radioactive wastes. As the nuclear industry in France declines and reprocessing is questioned, so La Hague will adapt to survive as the centre for management of radioactive waste. Bure is the outcome of a long and contentious process of site selection for a deep geological nuclear waste repository.
Gorleben, the power of the periphery: Conflict over the nuclear waste facilities at Gorleben proved pivotal to the end of nuclear power in Germany.
Into the future: Nuclear’s wastelands are scattered around the world in places where nuclear activities, accidents or deliberate devastation have occurred. These areas are usually remote, or areas from which the population has been removed, as at Fukushima and Chernobyl. More typically they constitute nuclear oases where nuclear facilities and communities co-exist in a state of mutual dependency extending down the generations.