A UK strategy for management of LLW gets nearer

22 September 2009

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) says it is one step closer to finalising the UK strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the UK Nuclear Industry, after a 14 week consultation period.

The consultation, which ran from 5 June 2009 to 11 September 2009, gave members of the public the chance to comment on the draft strategy, which was produced in response to revised government policy for the management of solid low level waste (LLW).

The strategy looks at ways of applying the waste management hierarchy to potentially reduce the amount of solid low level radioactive waste generated throughout the UK. The principles of the strategy are similar to those applied to domestic and industrial waste management across the country – prevent, reduce, reuse, recycle – prior to disposal.

At present most of this is disposed of at the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) near Drigg, Cumbria, which has been in use since 1959 and is now close to capacity.

More space is being built and there are plans for expansion in the future. But even with all of this extra capacity (potentially 700,000 m3 subject to planning and regulatory approvals) there will still be a significant shortfall compared with the amount of waste forecast to be generated over the long term (3,000,000m3 over 120 years).

Michael Calloway, the NDA’s Head of Low Level Waste, said: “The strategy looks at how we can use the principles of preventing, reducing, reusing and recycling in order reduce the amount of LLW generated - at the same time as maintaining high standards of health, safety, security and environmental protection.

“This will not only make best use of the available national disposal capacity at the LLWR, but also reduce the need for an additional national facility in the future.

“We received 48 responses to the consultation and these have already highlighted some key points for our consideration regarding alternative waste treatment and disposal sites. We will now review the comments in detail, and use them to further refine the strategy.

“This will help us to produce the best possible solution for effectively managing the UK’s solid low level radioactive waste now and for the future.”

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