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UKAEA, Dounreay: LLW Long Term Strategy — Developing the Options

[+] Author Affiliations
David Broughton

UKAEA

Paper No. ICEM2003-4514, pp. 41-49; 9 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2003-4514
From:
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME

abstract

UKAEA’s mission at its Dounreay establishment in the north of Scotland is to restore the site so that it can be used for other purposes, with a minimal effect on the environment and requiring minimal attention by future generations. A Dounreay Site Restoration Plan (DSRP) has been produced. It sets out the decommissioning and radioactive waste management activities to restore the site within the next 60 years. Management of solid low level radioactive waste (LLW) that already exists, and that which will be produced as the DSRP progresses is an essential site restoration activity. Altogether around 150,000m3 (5.3Mft3 ) of untreated LLW could arise. This will then need to be treated, packaged and managed, the resulting volume being around 200,000m3 (7Mft3 ). A project to develop a long term strategy for managing all Dounreay’s existing and future LLW was initiated in 1999. The identification of complete solutions for management of LLW arising from the site restoration of Dounreay, an integrated reactor and reprocessing site, is novel in the UK. The full range of LLW will be encountered. UKAEA is progressing this specific project during a period when both responsibility and policy for UK decommissioning and radioactive waste management are evolving in the UK. At present, for most UK nuclear operators, there are no recognised routes for disposing of significant volumes of decommissioning LLW that has either lower or higher radioactivity than the levels set by BNFL for disposal at the UK national LLW disposal site at Drigg. A large project such as this has the potential to affect the environmental and social conditions that prevail in the area where it is implemented. Local society therefore has an interest in a project of this scale and scope, particularly as there could be a number of feasible solutions. UKAEA is progressing the project by following UK established practice of undertaking a Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) study. UKAEA has no preconceptions of the outcome and is diligently not prejudging issues prematurely. The BPEO process draws experts and non-experts alike into the discussions and facilitates a structured analysis of the options. However to permit meaningful debate those options have to be at first generated, and secondly investigated. This has taken UKAEA two and a half years in technical assessment of options at a cost of around £23 /4 M. The options and issues have been investigated to the depth necessary for comparisons and valid judgements to be made within the context of the BPEO study. Further technical evaluation will be required on those options that eventually emerge as the BPEO. UKAEA corporate strategy for stakeholder participation in BPEO studies is laid out in “Restoring our Environment”, published in October 2002. This was developed by a joint approach between project managers, Corporate Communications, and discussion with the regulators, government departments and Scottish Executive. An Internal Stakeholder Panel was held in March 2003. The Panel was independently facilitated and recorded. Eight Panel members attended who provided a representative cross-section of people working on site. Two External Stakeholder Panels were held in Thurso at the end of May 2003. A Youth Stakeholder Panel was held at which three sixth form students from local High Schools gave their views on the options for managing Dounreay’s LLW. The agenda was arranged to maximise interactive discussion on those options and issues that the young people themselves considered important. The second External Stakeholder Panel was based on the Dounreay Local Liaison Committee. Additional participants were invited in acknowledgement of the wider issues involved. As the use of Drigg is an option two representatives from the Cumbrian local district committee attended. From all the knowledge and information acquired from both the technical and stakeholder programmes UKAEA will build up the objective line of argument that leads to the BPEO emerging. This will be the completion of this first stage of the project and is planned for achievement in March 2004. Once the BPEO has been identified the next stage will be to work up the applications for the authorisations that will be necessary to allow implementation of the BPEO. Any facilities needed will require planning permission from the appropriate planning authority. The planning application could be called in by a Minister of State or a planning inquiry convened. During this next stage attention will be paid to ensure all reports and submissions are consistent and compliant with regulations and possible future legal processes. Stakeholder dialogue will continue throughout this next stage moving on from disussion of options to the actual developments. The objective will be to resolve as many issues stakeholders might raise prior to the submissions of applications and prior to the regulators’ formal consultation procedures. This will allow early attention to those areas of concern. Beyond the submission of applications for authorisations it is unwise to speculate as nuclear decommissioning will be then organised in the UK in a different way. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will most probably be in overall control and, particularly for Dounreay, the Scottish Executive may have developed its policy for radioactive waste management in Scotland.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME

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