The Government today published the first annual report of its Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Programme. The programme is focused on implementing the long-term geological disposal of our higher activity radioactive waste.
Alongside this, the Government published a consultation on how potential sites for geological disposal will be identified and assessed.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, told a meeting of the Geological Disposal Implementation Board in London today:
“The UK has a substantial legacy of radioactive waste from a variety of nuclear programmes. This Government will not simply leave it to future generations to deal with.
“Today’s annual report and proposals for identifying and assessing possible sites show that we are making progress in this vital area. I want us to continue to be ambitious in our timescales for delivery. I would like us to set a goal of putting the first waste into a geological disposal facility by the end of 2029. I have tasked the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to look at opportunities for accelerating progress to meet this aim.”
The consultation document considers how desk-based studies would be used to identify possible sites that have been put forward following a local-authority decision to participate. It also sets out how possible sites will be assessed against agreed criteria and how local and subsequent government decisions will be made about any sites that might be put forward for more detailed geological assessment.
The Government is committed to a siting process based on voluntarism and partnership and has received three expressions of interest for two areas in west Cumbria. The invitation for communities to come forward to find out more about the siting process remains open. This will be a multi-billion pound project providing skilled employment for an average of 550 people for over a century.
Notes for editors
Government policy for managing the disposal of higher activity radioactive wastes is set out in the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) White Paper, published in 2008. Further information on the MRWS programme.
The first Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme annual report gives details of the progress made over the last year.
Read the consultation published today
The Geological Disposal Implementation Board has been set up by the Government to provide senior level oversight of the MRWS programme and enable stakeholders to provide input to, and observe, the programme.