KBR to support UK repository development

30 September 2022

USA-headquartered KBR has been awarded a contract to support the UK's Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) in developing a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Such a facility, NWS says, will create more than 4000 jobs for the local host community.

An illustrative example of a Geological Disposal Facility (Image: NWS)

Through the three-year agreement, KBR - a provider of full life-cycle professional services, project delivery and technologies - will deliver expert project, programme and portfolio support to NWS, part of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

KBR will coordinate work across the GDF programme of work within NWS, including project management, communication and community engagement support, technical design, and digital and transformation strategy development.

KBR said the contract will leverage its "decades of experience and growing domain knowledge of the nuclear energy sector, including the deep technical expertise provided by Frazer-Nash Consultancy, a wholly-owned KBR subsidiary".

"This work underlines our commitment to an ever-growing and increasingly important area of national critical infrastructure," said Paul Kahn, president of KBR's Government Solutions International business. "It will leverage KBR's expanding capabilities in the UK, and it aligns with our mission to deliver innovative solutions that help our customers accomplish their most critical business objectives with safety and sustainability at the core."

A GDF comprises a network of highly-engineered underground vaults and tunnels built to permanently dispose of higher activity radioactive waste so that no harmful levels of radiation ever reach the surface environment. Countries such as Finland, Sweden, France, Canada and the USA are also pursuing this option.

Job creation

According to a new report from NWS, more than 4000 jobs will be created during the siting and constructing of a deep underground facility for the disposal of higher-level radioactive waste.

The GDF - Creating Jobs & Skills: A First Look report sets out how the multi-billion-pound programme is expected to create thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs for over a century.

"This highly-engineered facility will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the UK and will provide a major investment for the local host community and its economy," NWS said. "Work on a GDF will carry on for about 175 years, generating an expected average of 2000 jobs in any given year. During this time, it could provide significant additional investment and create thousands of extra jobs through increased business opportunities and the development of new or improved infrastructure and facilities across the region."

It added that employment will be generated at the facility itself and in the supply chain, while attracting further investment in the local area. Most of the jobs created during construction and, operation could and should be locally based, NWS said.

"Countries like Sweden and Finland, where GDFs are progressing, are already seeing the benefits, with significant investment and jobs already created, so we know what the UK can expect," Nuclear Industry Association Chief Executive Tom Greatrex said. "It will also develop and strengthen the UK's proud legacy of world-class engineering and science."

The UK search for a suitable site is a nationwide process based on community consent and includes detailed investigations over a number of years to ensure a GDF can be constructed safely and securely. Community Partnerships, which have formed in Mid Copeland, South Copeland, and Allerdale in Cumbria, and Theddlethorpe in Lincolnshire, are engaging in a dialogue with local people to ensure they have access to information about what hosting a GDF might mean.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News