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Insight - Stakeholder Newsletter
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Edition 9 - June 2012 (3Mb)
Edition 3 - July 2010 (2Mb)
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How much waste is there to dispose of in the geological disposal facility?
The Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) White Paper gives the amounts of higher activity legacy wastes and materials that CoRWM considered might require disposal.
However, it is not possible at this stage to give a precise answer to this question. Legacy waste amounts will change over time due to changes in planned operations or if waste management technology or practices alter over time. There are also materials not currently classified as waste that may eventually need to be managed through geological disposal and also proposals for new nuclear power stations.
The UK Radioactive Waste Inventory, compiled and updated every three years, will be the basis for tracking the latest estimates of wastes potentially destined for disposal. A process for updating the waste inventory for disposal (the Baseline Inventory) will have to be agreed between communities, Government and the NDA. It must be transparent and including processes for indicating any changes.
In addition to existing wastes, there are some radioactive materials that are not currently classified as waste but that may, if it were decided at some point that they had no further use, need to be managed through geological disposal. These include:
Spent fuel: Fuel that has been used to power nuclear reactors is not currently classified as waste, because it still contains large amounts of uranium (and some plutonium) which can potentially be separated out through reprocessing and used to make new fuel. Most of the UK's spent fuel from civil reactors has been or is proposed to be reprocessed in this way, producing separated plutonium and uranium and HLW, ILW and LLW as waste by-products. Spent fuel need not be reprocessed, however, and could instead be packaged and disposed of directly in a geological disposal facility, as is planned in Finland and Sweden. Some spent fuel from existing UK Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) power stations and all the spent fuel from Sizewell B Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) is not currently destined for reprocessing and may ultimately need to be managed in this way.
Other nuclear materials: Depending on the strategy adopted other nuclear materials, currently not classified as waste, such as plutonium may be placed in the GDF.