Authority prepares to tackle waste

05 April 2007

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has established a new directorate - the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) - to "design and build an effective implementing organization to deliver a safe, environmentally sound, publicly acceptable, geological disposal solution" for intermediate- and high-level wastes.

The RWMD will be led by Richard Waite, previously the NDA's Engineering Director. The NDA said that it expects the new organization to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NDA and, once a suitable repository site has been selected, the subsidiary could develop into the site licence company.

The NDA also reported that the integration of the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Management Executive's (Nirex's) skills and expertise was now complete and, as of 2 April, the NDA will perform the functions previously undertaken by Nirex.

Nirex was formed in 1982 to develop an intermediate-level waste disposal facility, with shares held by British Energy, BNFL, the UKAEA and the government. It carried out detailed studies and in 1994 sought permission to construct an underground rock laboratory to investigate the suitability of strata near Sellafield for deep geological disposal. Permission was refused three years later.

Under plans announced in 2003, the government assumed control of Nirex and gave it independence from the nuclear industry in order to achieve greater transparency for its endeavours. Its independence is part of wider reforms such as establishment of the NDA to deal with legacy nuclear installations and sites. In October 2006, the government announced its intention for NDA to take over Nirex in line with its mandate for geological disposal of higher activity wastes.

Meanwhile, the NDA has also announced that its chairman, Sir Anthony Cleaver, will retire at the end of his three year appointment in July 2007. Cleaver said, "The NDA has come to the end of its start-up phase and this is an ideal time to hand over to someone who can provide continuity through the next stage of the NDA's journey."

Further information

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper

Filed under: This article is not categorised