News story

RWM sets out approach to evaluating sites for a GDF

Safety, communities, and the environment are key considerations

RWM Site Evaluation Image

Safety, opportunities for communities, and protection of the environment will be key considerations as part of the evaluation of sites to ensure they are suitable for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) today published its approach to GDF site evaluation in England and Wales, following a comprehensive and open national consultation.

A GDF will only be built where there is both a willing community and a suitable site. ‘Siting factors’, which are guided by government policy and legislation, will inform the conversations RWM will be having with communities and evaluations of site suitability.

There are six siting factors, which cover:

  • Safety and security – safety and security must be assured and endorsed by independent regulators. A GDF will not be built unless we, and they, are satisfied it is safe.

  • Community – communities are at the heart of the process to site a GDF, and RWM will consider social and economic opportunities, community wellbeing, and how a GDF can align with the host community’s vision.

  • Environment – a GDF is a major environmental protection endeavour. Construction of a GDF will need to meet independent regulatory requirements.

  • Engineering feasibility – RWM will need to ensure there is scope for sustainable design and the ability to construct and operate a GDF in a location.

  • Transport – the safe and secure transport of waste, people and other materials.

  • Value for money – RWM has a duty to ensure that value for money is delivered.

RWM Chief Executive Karen Wheeler said:

“A GDF is the best long-term solution for managing the UK’s legacy of higher activity radioactive waste safely.”

“A facility will only be built where there is a suitable site and a willing community, so it is important that communities and their representatives understand how we will evaluate suitability.”

“The site evaluation documents we published today, set out the ‘siting factors’ which we will use to assess suitability as we work with communities interested in exploring the benefits and implications of hosting a GDF.”

Published 18 February 2020