NDA gears up for UK geological repository

21 December 2009

The subsidiary of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Agency responsible for developing a deep geological repository for nuclear waste has completed an important regulatory review.

The review by the regulators – the Environment Agency, the Nuclear Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Transport - considered the structure and staffing of the NDA's Radioactive Waste Management Directorate.

The NDA said: "It is very important to us to be able to show that we are successfully transforming this part of the NDA to become an organisation that will ultimately be able to hold a nuclear site licence for a geological disposal facility.

"Although it is probably many years before a site is selected, we are carrying out preparatory work to support our approach to nuclear safety and environmental management such as conducting research on how a geological disposal facility could be developed.

"We agreed with regulators that the transition to Prospective SLC would be marked by arrangements being in place for RWMD to voluntarily submit to regulatory scrutiny and advice; and, regulatory agreement that RWMD has made progress toward meeting agreed principles concerning its governance, structure and operation as a Prospective SLC as measured by specific progress criteria."

The regulators also said that further work is now needed to demonstrate that the principles (including the criteria) have been fully achieved.

The RWMD Repository Development Management Board has agreed that RWMD will now operate as a prospective SLC under voluntary regulatory scrutiny.

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