Waste Management

UK Begins New Search For Deep Geological Repository Site

By David Dalton
21 December 2018

21 Dec (NucNet): The UK government has begun a new search to find a site to host a multi-billion-pound deep geological repository for higher-level radioactive waste, which is currently stored at various sites across the country.

In a statement to parliament on 19 December, Richard Harrington, the parliamentary secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said a suitable site “will be determined jointly by the willingness of a community to host a disposal facility and the suitability of the geology in the area”.

He said the process to find a site will be led by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Local authorities will have a key role in the decision-making process and will be required to test public support in the local area for a facility being located there before construction can proceed.

The repository will be a multi-billion-pound infrastructure investment and will provide skilled jobs and benefits to the community that hosts it for more than 100 years, Mr Harrington said.

He said the repository will feature “vaults and tunnels built inside a suitable, stable rock, within which packaged solid waste in purpose-built containers will be emplaced and then backfilled and sealed”.

The government also published a policy paper which sets out the framework for managing higher activity radioactive waste and how it will work with communities to find a repository site.

A previous siting process set out in a 2008 white paper ran for five years, with a number of communities participating in its early stages, but by February 2013, there were no longer any communities involved and the process ended. Following a further consultation and evidence gathering, a new white paper, based on lessons learned, was published in 2014.

Two communities in Cumbria, northwest England, had expressed interest in hosting a repository, but the local county council voted against moving to the next stage of the process.

The policy paper is online: https://bit.ly/2GIwXiW

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