Refurbishment completed at UK LLW repository site

14 July 2023

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), part of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), is currently preparing 260 containers of nuclear waste for final emplacement in disposal vaults the UK’s Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria.

This latest programme of grout infilling, sealing and securing containers of nuclear waste, follows a programme of refurbishments at the site and will take over five months to complete.

The 260 containers filled with low level radioactive waste (LLW) will be encapsulated in a cement-based grout to form a monolithic block, ensuring that radioactive waste is managed safely and in line with environmental regulations. The waste includes a wide range of materials, predominantly from the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The containers will then be ready for final disposal and will be placed in concrete vaults at the repository where they will remain.

To prepare for this work NWS made extensive improvements to the grouting facility at the site, including replacing old equipment, introducing new technology and improving the building’s infrastructure.

“The UK has been producing and managing radioactive waste for many decades and will continue to do so for many more,” said LLWR Operations Manager Russell Beckwith. “Our goal is to ensure that waste disposed of both safely and securely and in a way that is sustainable and protects people and the environment. The improvements and refurbishments at the facility will enable us to complete this work to the highest standard and with maximum efficiency.”

Most radioactive waste arising in the UK is LLW or Very Low Level (VLLW). NWS delivers solutions for this waste, including at the LLWR. This nuclear licensed site enables the safe, compliant, and effective management of LLW materials needing disposal in engineered vaults. In the last decade LLW and Intermediate Level waste has been dealt with more sustainably. Alternative options such as re-use, recycling, decontamination, incineration, and specialised landfill, (for waste with the very lowest levels of radioactivity), are now preferred, with disposal at LLWR considered a last resort.

Image: The grouting facility at the LLW repository site in Cumbria (courtesy of NWS)

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