A House of Lords’ Select Committee on science and technology is to undertake a new enquiry into the management of nuclear waste in the UK. This action was prompted by the failure to adopt a national strategy for managing radwaste that is both scientifically sound and acceptable to the public.
According to the Committee Chairman, Lord Phillips of Ellesmere, the previous government’s decision not to give Nirex planning approval for an underground research laboratory near the Sellafield reprocessing plant has brought the development of a deep disposal facility to a halt, and “casts doubt on whether one could ever be built in this country.” One the plus side, Lord Phillips noted that this does provide an opportunity to start afresh in deciding how to manage nuclear waste in the long-term.
The enquiry will consider all possible options for the management of the UK’s intermediate and high level waste. Issues of particular concern are: • The decision-making process for site selection (for a store or repository).
• Confidence in the institutional responsibility for nuclear waste.
• How long-term risks are calculated and perceived. And, • How to maintain an adequate science base for dealing with the UK’s nuclear waste in the long-term.