The importance of taking urgent action to deal with the UK’s higher-activity radioactive waste is underlined in a new report published today.
“Without action now, we would be extending for decades the risks and costs of handling this waste above ground, and leaving future generations to deliver a permanent solution,” says Karen Wheeler, CEO of Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), in ‘A Permanent Solution for Higher-Activity Radioactive Waste’
As nuclear technology has been part of daily life in the UK for more than 60 years, the report explains the background and progress made so far in tackling the issue. It outlines why we must act now for the waste that has accumulated over the decades and for material that will arise as existing power plants are decommissioned in the coming years.
In common with other countries around the world, successive UK governments, supported by scientific advice, have concluded that the right answer for the long term is to build a permanent Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) located deep underground. There is overwhelming international consensus, with similar programmes now underway in Canada, Finland, France, Sweden and Switzerland.
The report sets out the history, policy, and approach for delivering a GDF in the UK, in a single document as a reference point for stakeholders and those wanting to learn more. It is published as RWM engages with people across the country to find a willing community and a suitable site for a GDF.
In the report, Karen Wheeler, RWM’s CEO explains:
"Providing a permanent solution for the UK’s higher-activity radioactive waste is one of our most challenging environmental problems.
"Scientists and experts across the world have agreed that the safest long-term solution for such waste is geological disposal, and many countries with a similar legacy already have well developed programmes in place to build geological disposal facilities to isolate radioactive waste many hundreds of metres underground.
"That’s why the UK government has decided we must press ahead with our own facility and RWM has been tasked with delivering a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
"So we will work in partnership with communities across the country, exploring the potential for them to host a GDF and the impact and potentially transformational benefits the programme could provide to a consenting community."
Alongside the report, RWM has also published its Annual Review 2019-20, which sets out progress on delivering RWM’s mission and plans for the future.