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Long-Term Issues for Indefinite Surface Storage of Intermediate and Some Low Level Radioactive Waste in the UK

[+] Author Affiliations
Samantha King

UK Nirex, Ltd., Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK

Paper No. ICEM2003-4935, pp. 1879-1887; 9 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2003-4935
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

Nirex is the organisation responsible for long-term radioactive waste management in the UK. Our mission is to provide the UK with safe, environmentally sound and publicly acceptable options for the long-term management of radioactive materials. Nirex is therefore researching various options for the long-term management of radioactive wastes/materials in order to identify the relevant issues with regard to the feasibility of options, and the research, development and stakeholder dialogue necessary to address these issues. The UK policy for the long-term management of solid radioactive waste is currently undergoing review. In September 2001, the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Devolved Administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland launched a public consultation on ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely’ (MRWS) [1]. The aim of this consultation was to start a process that will ultimately lead to the implementation of a publicly acceptable radioactive waste management policy. The MRWS programme of action proposed by Government includes a “stakeholder” programme of public debate backed by research to examine the different radioactive waste management options, and to recommend the preferred option, or combination of options. The options of storage above ground and underground are expected to be among the options examined. In the UK, radioactive wastes are currently held in surface stores, at over 30 locations in the UK, pending a decision on their long-term management. These stores were originally designed to have lifetimes of up to 50 years, but due to uncertainty regarding the longer term management of such wastes, extending the life of stores to 100 years is now being considered. This paper describes a preliminary scoping study to identify the long-term issues associated with surface storage of intermediate-level radioactive waste (ILW), and certain low-level waste (LLW) indefinitely in the UK. These wastes contain radionuclides with half lives that can range up to a million years or more, it was therefore assumed, for the purposes of this scoping study, that wastes would need to be managed over a period of at least one million years. An indefinite surface storage concept will require institutional stability and encompasses the principle of guardianship. It is based on a rolling present where each generation is required to monitor and, as necessary, repackage the waste and refurbish/replace storage buildings over a period of at least one million years. Each generation will also need to decide whether to continue with surface storage or implement another long-term management option. The aims of the scoping study were to: i) Investigate the implications of indefinite surface storage of waste packages through consideration of the facility specification, design and assessment. This framework is common to all Nirex radioactive waste management option studies, and provides a common basis for comparison. ii) Identify the social and ethical issues related to indefinite storage, including the principles and values that some stakeholders believe are met by the surface storage option.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME

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