National Geological Screening for a GDF - Eastern England region
Our work shows that we may find a suitable geological setting for a GDF in most of this subregion.
Rock can be seen at the surface in some of this subregion such as the sea cliffs, cliffs in the North York Moors and in man-made excavations such as quarries or road cuttings. Combined with numerous deep boreholes and geophysical investigations, this gives us an understanding of the rocks present and their distribution.
There are clay-rich rock layers under most of the subregion in which we may be able to site a GDF. There are also layers of rock salt under most of the eastern coastal half of the subregion and extending off the coast, in which we may be able to site a GDF. We would need to do more work to find out whether these rocks have suitable properties and thicknesses.
Even where individual clay-rich rock layers are found not to be thick enough to host a GDF they may contribute to the safety of a GDF in deeper rocks as they could act as a barrier to groundwater flow from depth. This is important because movement of groundwater is one of the ways in which radioactive material could be carried back to the surface.
Parts of the sub-region, south-west of Whitby and south of Pickering in particular, have known oil and gas resources and the area between Whitby and Middlesbrough has been mined for iron ore. In these areas the drilling is likely to have affected the way in which water moves through the rock. Also possible exploration in the future in these areas means that it is more likely that future generations may disturb a facility.
Parts of this subregion, either side of the Vale of Pickering, in particular, and extending off the coast, have Petroleum Exploration & Development Licences to allow companies to explore for oil and gas. This exploration is currently at an early stage and it is not known whether oil or gas in these licence areas will be exploited. RWM will continue to monitor how this exploration programme progresses.
Parts of the subregion which are mined for potash and rock salt, south of Middlesbrough, would also need to be taken into account in the siting of a GDF, although the nature of mining in evaporites does not affect the movement of groundwater in the surrounding rocks in the same way as other mining.
For further information, read the report below.
We have also produced a summary of the geological attributes of the Eastern England Region.