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Underground nuclear waste burial recommended


UK government advisers were expected to recommend that nuclear waste be disposed of underground in a report due at the end of July.

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

'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 1km 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, ' said McKerron.

But CORWM was expected to recommend that the underground repository be sealed as soon as practicable to minimise future risk, McKerron said.

'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.' The best way of managing costs and minimising risks posed by terrorism, political or social break down, environmental change, or fi nancial catastrophe was to select a secure disposal option and lock nuclear waste away as soon as possible, McKerron added.

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