The UK’s new consent-based siting process for a geological disposal facility (GDF) for nuclear waste must be supplemented with appropriate funding support and industry collaboration to fill supply chain gaps and control costs, waste experts said. In January, the UK energy ministry launched two public consultations for the siting of the U.K.’s first geological disposal facility (GDF), reinvigorating the country’s quest to build its first long-term nuclear waste facility. The move came a month after the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) suggested the UK could implement plans for commissioning and operating a GDF facility by 2030. International success with consent-based engagement in Finland and Sweden has boosted confidence in the U.K.’s plans, Juliet Long, Head of Radioactive Substances Legacy and Waste Issues at the U.K.’s Environment Agency, said. “The government has taken the time to look at international models and to reflect that in its latest policy development,” she said. The RWM has already had positive responses from multiple locations across the country, including Cumbria, which already hosts several nuclear power generation and defence sites including Sellafield, where 80% of the UK’s HAW is believed to be stored, Devonshire Dock Complex, the Metals Recycling Facility at Lillyhall, the Low-Level Waste (LLW) Repository at Drigg, In addition, Nugen hopes to build a 10 billion-pound nuclear power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield. Funding support will prove critical in achieving the NICs 2030 target for the GDF process, according to Eden Nuclear and Environment, which has provided technical support on waste disposal to the RWM for the GDF and the U.K.’s LLW Repository Ltd. The lifetime cost of the GDF facility is estimated at between 12 billion and 20 billion pounds over a 150 year-period, according to RWM. The NIC’s 2030 target can be met “if the technical programme is appropriately financed and there is a commitment to pursuing it in a timely way,” Andy Baker, Managing Director of Eden Nuclear and Environment, said. “Given the risks involved in siting and delivering a GDF, long-term finance can only be provided by government,” he said. While more advanced programs in other countries such as Finland and Sweden will provide industrial learnings, there is still a “limited international track record” of these projects, Baker noted. According to media reports, the government may be willing to fund 55% of facility costs and require nuclear new-build owners to fund 35% with the final 10% covered by a liability fund set aside by previous nuclear operators. The design of a GDF facility will depend on local site characteristics and cost considerations. “A safe final repository is a combination of the engineering, geology and management arrangements in place, so until we have a site we won’t know what the particular design aspects will need to be,” Long noted. The EA has been working with RWM on a variety of design scenarios, she said. Baker noted that the RWM program has “historically focussed on one Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) disposal solution– vaults in hard rock with a cementitious backfill.” Importantly, tunnel boring and mining expertise are depleted skills in the UK, which must be factored into design plans and budgets.
Nuclear Energy Insider 21st March 2018 read more »
AN MP has received assurances that a mine in his constituency will only be considered as a nuclear dumping ground if there is support from the community. Plans to re-open a North-East mine to store hazardous waste were last raised in 2011 when NPL Estates announced they wanted to use an anhydrite mine beneath the former ICI site in Billingham as a long-term tip. And in the mid-Eighties 86,000 signatures were collected on a petition against plans to dump nuclear waste in the mines. Earlier this year, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham called on the government to clarify its position during Prime Minister’s Questions. Speaking in the Commons, he said in early 1985 following opposition from the local community, the Government of the day abandoned the investigation in to the potential use of the anhydrite mine in Billingham as a site for the disposal of intermediate level radioactive waste materials. And now eight-weeks later he has the response that he was hoping for when Cabinet Minister David Lidington MP answered his query. Mr Cunningham said: “Despite having to wait eight weeks for the response from the Minister, I am satisfied that the Government are not intending to use the mine under Billingham to store their nuclear waste, a move I know would be opposed by my constituents.
Northern Echo 21st March 2018 read more »