UK launches Nuclear Waste Services strategy

25 April 2023

The Nuclear Waste Services strategy for the UK aims to "make nuclear waste permanently safe, sooner".

The strategy is focused on goals to hit by 2030 (Image: NWS corporate strategy report 2023)

The strategy sets out key dates, such as capping starting on the Low Level Waste Repository in 2024-25, thermal treatment technologies developed as a proven technology by 2026-27 and decisions taken in 2026 on which communities will progress to detailed testing as part of the Geological Disposal Facility programme.

NWS Chair Adrienne Kelbie and NWS CEO Corhyn Parr said, in a joint statement: "This strategy sets our direction, objectives, key milestones and the transformation needed to succeed by 2030."

Reducing waste is a key theme of the strategy, which says: "The volumes of this waste going to disposal in the UK have been driven down greatly over the years through more effective application of the waste hierarchy to identify ways to avoid creating waste, to better characterise materials, identify new opportunities to re-use or recycle materials and physically reduce the volume of the remaining waste. Between 2009 and 2021 this saw a remarkable shift from 95% of waste arising in 2009 going straight to disposal at the Low Level Waste Repository, to only 2% of waste arising in 2021 going to disposal. The rest has been successfully diverted."

On decommissioning, it says the "landscape is constantly evolving due to the generation of more and different types of waste and the increased need to recycle as much waste as possible from decommissioning. We need to reduce secondary wastes, achieving final end states for the nuclear estate and minimising impacts on future generations. This includes the aspiration to recycle 50% of waste from decommissioning and reduce secondary wastes by around 70% by 2030".

The strategy also says that thermal treatment technologies could have a big impact, by applying "high temperatures to waste to pacify reactive materials, reduce volumes and produce a stable waste form for final disposal". NWS is working with Sellafield Ltd, "who are leading the trials programme to understand waste applicability and technology maturity in order to develop Thermal Treatment into a proven technology solution (S07 Thermal Treatment)".

Listen: NWS's Corhyn Parr interview on World Nuclear News podcast (from 18 minutes, 30 seconds)



Nuclear Waste Services was created in 2022 as the single UK waste business for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), integrating Radioactive Waste Management, Low Level Waste Repository  and the NDA Integrated Waste Management Programme.

It says "our aspiration is to promote a circular economy mindset by treating nuclear waste as a valuable asset whilst developing skills and national infrastructure. Then as a country we can become self-sufficient in the full lifecycle management of nuclear waste, which will support future clean energy security for UK prosperity".

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority CEO David Peattie said that a year after the launch of NWS as a single waste-focused organisation in the UK "the strategy shows how the team is developing its thinking and providing safe, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to help achieve our nationally important work".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News