A new UK policy for managing solid low level radioactive waste has been published setting out priorities for managing existing and future wastes from the nuclear energy industry and other sources.
The policy, published by the UK Government and devolved administrations, follows a public consultation in 2006, and puts proving public safety at the forefront, while setting out a flexible approach to low level waste (LLW) management. The policy's key aim is not to be prescriptive but "to provide a high level framework within which individual LLW management decisions can be taken flexibly to ensure appropriate safe, environmentally-acceptable and cost-effective management solutions."
In creating a UK-wide strategy for managing low level nuclear industry waste, the government requires the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA) to develop and publish a plan for the optimal use of the country's existing LLW repository near Drigg, Cumbria, which must include an assessment of when a future replacement might be required. The site has been operated as a national LLW repository since 1959.
LLW management plans must take into account current and future arisings of LLW, and their radiological and non-radiological properties. Plans must be based on a risk-informed approach, to ensure safety and protection of the environment. Waste managers must seek to minimize waste through steps including waste avoidance, volume reduction, recycling and re-use. Plans must be based on an assessment of all practicable options for long-term waste management.
The NDA has welcomed the publication of the new policy, saying that it clarifies the options and requirements for long term management of LLW while maintaining levels of safety and environmental responsibility.
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)
Nuclear Decommissioning Agency
Defra: Policy for the long term management of solid low level radioactive waste in the United Kingdom
WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper
WNA's Waste Management in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle information paper