The UK Radioactive Waste Management on 18 February published its approach to geological disposal facility (GDF) site evaluation in England and Wales. 

The publication follows a comprehensive and open national consultation.  

Key considerations in evaluating the suitability of sites to host a GDF will include safety, opportunities for communities, and protection of the environment.

“A GDF is the best long-term solution for managing the UK’s legacy of higher activity radioactive waste safely," said RWM chief executive Karen Wheeler. 

"A facility will only be built where there is a suitable site and a willing community, so it is important that communities and their representatives understand how we will evaluate suitability,” she added. 

Siting factors – guided by government policy and legislation – will inform evaluations of site suitability, as well as the conversations RWM will have with potential host communities.

There are six siting factors, covering:

  1. Safety and security – safety and security must be assured and endorsed by independent regulators. A GDF will not be built unless we, and they, are satisfied it is safe.
  2. Community – communities are at the heart of the process to site a GDF, and RWM will consider social and economic opportunities, community wellbeing, and how a GDF can align with the host community’s vision.
  3. Environment – a GDF is a major environmental protection endeavour. Construction of a GDF will need to meet independent regulatory requirements.
  4. Engineering feasibility – RWM will need to ensure there is scope for sustainable design and the ability to construct and operate a GDF in a location.
  5. Transport – the safe and secure transport of waste, people and other materials.
  6. Value for money – RWM has a duty to ensure that value for money is delivered.

RWM launched consultations on its draft approach to site evaluations in January 2019. 

These ran for 12 weeks and the organisation received around 90 formal responses which helped to inform its final approach.

More information can be found on the  GDF Campaign website