A MAJOR compound for the treatment of historic plutonium on Sellafield looks set to get the go-ahead despite fierce opposition from communities living in the shadow of the site.

Nuclear bosses have issued assurances that “safety is paramount” with the project intended to slash the risks associated with the storage of the lethal radioactive material dating from the early days of the facility.

But Seascale Parish Council has “grave safety reservations” and has also branded the planned 140-ft high facility an “eyesore” – with residents from neighbouring parishes raising additional concerns over the knock-on effect on traffic congestion and parking.

The controversial plans have been tipped for approval when are discussed by Copeland’s planning panel on Wednesday (December 19).

The five-year build starting in September would include a process plant, a tank farm for gas storage and high-level bridges with the re-packaged nuclear material remaining in storage until 2120.

The biggest build on the site for years,  the area earmarked for development includes a former carpark, a patch of open ground and a concrete building in the south west part of the site close to Thorp.

The plant would be used for the treatment and packaging of waste now stored at different places across the site, with treated material transferred via an internal link corridor to the storage site.

Sellafield insisting “rigorous” measures would be put in place to ensure the site is safe.

However, Seascale Parish Council raised concerns over the 100-year lifespan of the storage facility because the material it contains “is high risk for substantially longer”.

They also believe the towering structure will be a blight on the skyline, and will hit the beach tourist industry.

The council’s “strong objection” also comes amid claims the traffic management plan has “not fully considered the impact on Seascale and surrounding villages”.

Under the plans deliveries would be controlled and operate outside rush hour but the council is concerned that road network cannot cope with this level of traffic.

Ponsonby Parish Council has withdrawn its original objection after a response from nuclear bosses addressed their concerns.

However, members have also demanded that Sellafield “urgently” improve its communication with stakeholders and want to see a community benefit package for surrounding villages.

Gosforth Parish Council said that “some” of their fears had been addressed but members were still concerned over several issues including the absence of a contamination statement.

Planners accept that the building phase will increase traffic, with some 600 staff needed at peak times.

However, 75 per cent of the workers will be asked use Park and Ride in a bid to reduce traffic.

An initial report was presented to the planning panel at the end of September and members agreed to a site visit which was undertaken on October 11.

The application had been put on ice to allow for issues raised by statutory consultees to be considered and a landscape and visual assessment to be carried out.