Radioactive Waste Management, a subsidiary of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has begun the process of finding a host community and a suitable site for a deep geological disposal facility for radioactive waste in England or Wales. RWM is canvassing views about how potential sites will be assessed and is holding a series of technical consultations over the coming weeks that will be open to the public. Local authorities will have a key role in the decision-making process and will be required to test public support in the local area for a facility being located there before construction can proceed.
An earlier siting process based on a 2008 white paper ran for five years, with a number of communities participating in its early stages. However, all the communities eventually pulled out and the process ended in 2013. A new white paper, based on lessons learned, was published in 2014 following consultation and evidence gathering. Two communities in Cumbria, northwest England, had expressed interest in hosting a repository, but the local county council blocked the next stage of the process. Radioactive waste is currently stored at more than 20 surface sites around the UK, which are designed to withstand severe weather and earthquakes for up to 100 years. However, these need to be continually monitored and will eventually need to be replaced, or the waste will have t0 be moved elsewhere.