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UK Government launches new long-term plan to dispose of radioactive waste

On 24th July 2014, the Government launched a new long-term plan to deal permanently with the UK's radioactive waste. It follows a consultation on improving the process of finding a site to host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), which safely isolates radioactive waste deep underground and inside multiple barriers to provide protection over hundreds of thousands of years.

Based on feedback to the Government consultation, which the Nuclear Institute responded to, a new plan has been created for working with communities to identify a site for a GDF.

Over the next two years the Government plans to work with experts and the public to give greater clarity on issues such as national geological screening, the planning process and the environmental impacts.

It has been proposed that the local community which hosts a facility will benefit from jobs for hundreds of people over many decades, and bolster local service industries.

GDF infographic

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years, and we can learn from the experiences of other countries who are also doing this. Building and running a GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community."

Radioactive waste comes from a range of sources including generating electricity in nuclear power stations, using radioactive materials in industry, medicine and research, and from defence-related nuclear programmes.

Currently, it is stored temporarily at secure nuclear sites across the country, but it is proposed that a GDF will enable the permanent disposal of waste. It is internationally recognised as the safest and most secure way of dealing with radioactive waste on a long-term basis, with countries including Finland, Sweden and Canada already ahead of us in implementing it.


Read the Government's White Paper: Implementing Geological Disposal 24 July 2014

Read the Nuclear Institute's response to the consultation: DECC MRWS Consultation on a revised Siting Process for a Geological Disposal Facility September 2013

GDF roles infographic