The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced plans to seek a suitable site for a new multi-billion-pound geological disposal facility (GDF) for higher activity radioactive waste, which is currently stored in various sites across the UK.
Energy secretary Richard Harrington has announced the government’s plans to consult on, and locate, an appropriate site for a new underground nuclear waste disposal site.
The new GDF will be a highly engineered structure at a depth of between 200m and 1,000m, which will be used to isolate radioactive waste behind several barriers to ensure that no harmful amount of radioactivity ever reach the surface environment.
The GDF will be a “multi-billion-pound” infrastructure investment to support “increasing productivity and driving clean growth” for hundreds of years.
The announcement comes despite fears about the UK’s new nuclear builds after Toshiba’s pulled out of the Moorside NuGen project. There are also concerns that Hitachi could back out of its role at the Wylfa Newydd Nuclear plant.
However, hopes have been raised by the sucess of a new reactor in Taishan, China, which is using the same technology as the plant being constructed at Hinkley Point C.
According to a statement released by Harrington and BIES, the structure will feature ”vaults and tunnels built inside a suitable, stable rock, within which packaged solid waste in purpose-built containers will be emplaced and then backfilled and sealed”.
The process to find a location for the GDF will be led by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
There is currently no preferred location, and consultation will be carried out to find a suitable site that will include consent from the local community as well as suitability of the geography to host such a site.
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