NDA plans for underground radioactive waste disposal

NDA has set out details of how it could implement the UK Government’s solution to deal with higher activity radioactive waste through disposal deep underground in a geological disposal facility. This process will be based on a voluntarism and partnership approach.

While the UK Government is leading on the site selection process, our scientists and engineers within the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) are considering all of the issues which will need to be dealt with to successfully deliver what will be one of biggest scientific and engineering developments in the UK.

These issued are covered in the newly published “Geological Disposal: Steps towards implementation” report:

Geological Disposal: Steps towards implementation – Executive Summary (2Mb)

Geological Disposal: Steps towards implementation – Full Report (3Mb) 

 Bruce McKirdy, Managing Director of RWMD said:

“We are some time away from construction and operation of a geological disposal facility, but our work also supports the Government’s site selection process. This allows us to provide as much information as possible to those communities who are interested in potentially hosting a facility.”

The five steps or phases as outlined are:

  • Preparatory Studies – in this phase our work supports the UK Government and communities who have expressed an interest in participating in the site selection process.
  • Surface Based Investigations – if communities decide to proceed, the UK Government will agree candidate sites for surface-based investigations.
  • Construction and Underground Based Investigations – once UK Government has identified its preferred site and following successful discussions with the local community, we will seek planning and regulatory permissions.
  • Operations – following agreement by the UK Government and regulators the facility would start operations (around 2040).
  • Closure – Once all the waste has been disposed, a decision to close the facility will be taken following discussions with the local community.

Bruce said:

“We realise our plans are at the very early stage of this programme and that implementation is dependant on the successful working in partnership with potential host communities and with UK Government.”