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Deep burial of nuclear waste is best, say experts

NUCLEAR WASTE should be disposed of in a deep underground repository, government advisers will recommend later this month.

Chairman of the government-appointed Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) Gordon McKerron said last week that deep geological disposal is the only viable option for dealing with the UK's 500,000m 3 of intermediate level nuclear waste.

McKerron was speaking at NCE's nuclear decommissioning conference in London.

The option is CORWM's preferred scheme from a shortlist of three. 'We have considered a shortlist of three waste management options: interim storage of up to 300 years, geological disposal in a repository between 300m and 1,000m deep, and phased geological disposal.

'This last option would be designed to remain open for up to several hundred years, enabling monitoring and possible retrieval of waste.' But CORWM will recommend that the waste is buried and immediately sealed over to minimise future risk, McKerron said.

He also insisted that the decommissioning costs are not delayed to be paid for by future generations: 'Applying a code of inter-generational ethics and the principle that the polluter should pay suggests that the present generation should bear the cost and responsibility for dealing with waste.

'To provide a solution that passes cost and responsibility to generations 300 years from now satisfies neither criteria.'

McKerron said the best way of managing costs and minimising risks posed by terrorism, social breakdown, or environmental change is to select a secure disposal option and lock nuclear waste away as soon as possible, l CORWM is due to publish its final report on 31 July.

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