Jobs for life? Nuclear storage on the Marsh

Hemingway said that you should always write about what you know. I know about the psychology of selling.

I am a sales director and I am fluent all sales techniques and persuasion tricks that can be employed to convince people ‘to buy’. I have been reading all the information around the planned nuclear dump on the Marsh. What I have read makes me very worried, not solely based on the obvious dangers of storing nuclear waste, but more worrying for me is the way it is being sold to us and why?

The hilarious ‘official’ website for the consultation (the ‘Ladybird guide to have hundreds of tons of hugely toxic, radioactive waste buried under your feet’ site) is not even slightly unbiased. The welcome page sets the scene as if the rest of the site will be impartial and states the council has ‘no official formal view’. The rest of the site however is an unashamed sales job worthy of any double-glazing company fighting for survival in the recession.

The next page ‘How does Geological Disposal work?’ shows that there is a brain behind the site. They have controlled and cleaned up the language they use to describe what they are selling. The page isn’t called ‘How does dumping tons of radioactive waste under your garden work?’ Geological disposal sounds clean, scientific and something you should not worry your pretty little heads about.

It lists lots of scientific organizations that back dumping highly radioactive waste in a big pit. Which of us little people can argue with an organization so respected with names we struggle to pronounce? After a whole page of ringing endorsements by these respected bodies, who all coincidentally work in the nuclear field, there is a half sentence, almost muttered under its breath that says ‘It should be noted, though, that organizations such as Greenpeace have their doubts about the effectiveness of geological disposal’.

Would it be worth mentioning on this page that this has never been done before? No one has ever buried nuclear waste long term under ground before. Hence no one really knows if it’s going to be ok? That seems quiet a big thing to me, we are being used as guinea pigs! Shepway Council did not feel the need to spoil the lovely feel of the site with such negativity.

Should they mention that this was tried in Germany? They thought that Asse was a safe place to store its nuclear waste. They now have to dig it all up again because it’s leaking, after less than 30 years (instead of the projected 30,000). And that’s in a country renowned for its engineering skills! Not worth a mention?

How about the USA? The US spent tens of billions on developing a waste site in Yucca mountain in Utah (remote, unlike the Romney Marsh), which was meant to be opened in 1998, but is still not open and was closed/put on hold by Obama in 2009 as it was deemed unsafe.

I could go on and on deconstructing the spin employed but I don’t want to bore you. Let’s instead look at their main sales point, the close. You will find this on the ‘Why host it?’ page, or if you like “Why you should buy our idea?’ In it you will find this staggering sentence ‘Its ongoing operation would then guarantee work for many decades to come. The jobs would be varied, skilled and well paid’. Wow, in an area of high unemployment here is a big juicy carrot on a stick. We are going to give you lots of money.

I mean come on! This amounts to nasty pressure sales.

If Alistair Stewart, chief executive of Shepway district council is ever out of work and needs a job in sales, tell him to come see me. He is quoted as saying ‘the promised investment in transport, infrastructure and jobs is not a “bribe” and the council will go ahead only if the community is keen. (Note: the best time in sales to answer a customer’s objection is before it is raised)

He points out ‘that in Sweden two communities “fought over” which would get a similar facility. (Note: This is called social proof and it is very powerful. ‘Lot’s of other people like you have bought my product so you should too’)

Sales at its best. I have a couple of questions then. Why are they selling it to us so strongly? Who is behind it? It is a huge investment so where is the profit going to come from?

You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that if this is the first time long term underground storage will be used, a lot of other countries would like to use it eh? I mean other countries who can’t trick, sorry I meant to write convince their citizens to accept this highly toxic radioactive waste will pay big money to dump their waste in the good old UK.

So, it’s not just Britain’s Nuclear waste that they’re hoping to bury here, they’ll be tendering to dispose of the entire continent’ or maybe the worlds nuclear waste, right here, under our feet. The Marsh will become a dumping ground for other countries toxic waste too, a nice thought.

Don’t worry though it will no go ahead until the people have been consulted. How will the consultation work? Will we have clear and transparent access to all the data collected? Will we have an opportunity to examine in detail the issues surrounding the long-term dangers of storing radioactive material under ground or is the council’s website it? Will they just say ‘Hey good news the people say yes!’ without providing proof?

I know Shepway recently employed more traffic wardens following ‘calls from the public’. When challenged by a local celebrity to show proof of those calls, they were unable to. Neither a good precedent nor one that fills me with confidence.

If you think it’s good or if you think it’s bad, make sure your voice can be heard and make your decisions on your own research, not on spin.

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