Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Nuclear clean up

The question

This week the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency opened a consultation on clearing up Britain's nuclear power legacy. Part of the consultation is on how we should handle Intermediate Level Waste (ILW).

At the moment this is usually stored on site at nuclear facilities. What do you think we should do with this waste?

We liberally 'dispose' of refuse in engineered landfills that will be around for 100 years plus.

We should continue to concrete encase and bury ILW at source.

We know where it is, we can monitor the facilities and control risks, but this must not be a 'bury and forget' solution.

Simon Lawrence, 32, senior engineer, Cardiff This interminable question of ILW is now a political rather than a technical question.

The only sensible solution is an underground repository in a stable rock formation, and this was in hand until the plug was pulled on the 'Rock Characterisation Project' near Sellafield a decade or so ago.

This solution has been adopted in the US and Scandinavia, is practical and carries infinitesimal risk. If we do not take our heads out of the sand and face down the misguided so called environmentalists and proceed with a repository and new nuclear programme very soon, we will find ourselves left with an electrical power supply that is inadequate, uncontrollable, unreliable and unaffordable.

Derek Limbert, 65, retired director, Beaconsfield Probably in exactly the same way as it is being stored at the moment which is with every care to minimise the radiation, security and environment risk John D Brownlie, 57, project director, Shrewsbury ILW is waste with higher radioactivity levels than low level waste but, as there are no heat issues, it is not difficult to store. A lot of ILW is metals with graphite, glass and ceramics and is commonly stored in drums mixed with grout. It is not dangerous to be around, although shielding is advisable to lower long term exposure.

I always thought that it would make a good mix for exotic wall tile ceramics, with a sensitive die which would glow at night.

Julian Lord, 39, barrister, Bristol Let us think forward, not just 10 or 20 years but 70 or 80 years. It is not too far away.

At the current rates of change (environment, resources, usage, costs, emerging country growth etc), things will be very different.

It is hard to think that smaller, vastly superior nuclear power plants will not be the dominant power source, with renewables helping out. Let us use the remaining supplies of nonrenewables to give us enough time to get nuclear right and then change. As for current waste, fix it in an inert material and store it in a secure but accessible site so we can dispose of it properly when the best process is available, whether this is shooting it into the sun, burying it into the earth's core or whatever.

Simon Done, 40, road engineer, Berkshire

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.