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Transparency in Practice: UK Nirex Limited and Access to Information

[+] Author Affiliations
Jenny Watson

Nirex Independent Transparency Review Panel

John Dalton

United Kingdom Nirex, Ltd., Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK

Paper No. ICEM2003-4880, pp. 1553-1557; 5 pages
  • 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


In 1997 Nirex failed to obtain planning permission to build an underground laboratory (Rock Characterisation Facility) near the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, North-West England. This stopped the UK’s deep disposal programme. Since then there has been much discussion on how the UK should take the issue of long-term radioactive waste management forward. As part of its contribution to the ongoing debate, Nirex needed to reassess how its role in finding a long-term solution could be better played given its history. It has been suggested that the processes required to deal with such a contentious issue, the conduct of individuals and the structural relationships between organisations, all need to change if any progress is to be made. Specifically, one of the difficulties of the past was the lack of a mechanism to allow all stakeholders and the public to clearly see what had been decided and for what reasons. It is suggested that central to these changes needs to be a strong ethical framework based on transparency. This paper will provide an overview of the Nirex Transparency Policy, its operation and some observations of putting it into practice. As a method of ensuring that Nirex does not get complacent about this important aspect of their work, it established an Independent Transparency Review Panel. As part of this panel’s remit they conduct an annual review of the operation of Nirex’s Transparency Policy. Some conclusions and recommendations of operating such a policy will be discussed as will the implications of forthcoming legislation.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME
Topics: Transparency



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