You may be interested to read the CoRWM draft report and recommendations issued on April 27.
It’s on the CoRWM website at: http://www.corwm.org.uk/content-0
There is also news coverage and comment in several of the UK newspapers.
CoRWM’s Draft Recommendations
Since 1997, there has been a vacuum in UK policy on the long-term management of long-lived and more highly active radioactive wastes. CoRWM has drafted the following integrated package of recommendations. This is the start of a process, leading to CoRWM’s final recommendations. Once made, they should be acted upon urgently.
1. Within the present state of knowledge, CoRWM considers geological disposal to be the best available approach for the long-term management of all the material categorised as waste* in the CoRWM inventory when compared with the risks associated with other methods of management. (* CoRWM’s reference position is that reactor decommissioning wastes within CoRWM’s inventory will be treated the same as ILW, destined for geological disposal. However, we recognise that management options taken forward for LLW on reactor sites may also be appropriate, if a safety case could be made, for some reactor decommissioning wastes.)
2. CoRWM recognises that there are social and ethical concerns that might mean there is not sufficient agreement to implement geological disposal at the present time. In any event, the process of implementation will take several decades. This period could last for as long as one or two generations if there are technical difficulties in siting or if community concerns make it difficult, or even impossible, to make progress at a suitable site.
3. These uncertainties surrounding the implementation of geological disposal lead CoRWM to recommend that a programme of interim storage is required as a contingency and therefore must play an integral part in the long-term management strategy.
4. Therefore, CoRWM recommends a staged process of implementation, incorporating the following elements:
reviewing and ensuring security, particularly against terrorist attacks;
•ensuring the longevity of the stores themselves;
•minimising the need for re-packaging of the wastes; and
•addressing other storage issues identified during CoRWM’s public and stakeholder engagement process, such as avoiding unnecessary transport of wastes.
d. A continuing public and stakeholder engagement process aimed at building trust and confidence in the proposed long-term management approach, including the siting of facilities.
e. A set of decision points providing for a review of progress with an opportunity for re-evaluation before proceeding to the next stage, or before foreclosing alternatives.
5. CoRWM has not yet decided whether to make recommendations regarding the precise form of geological disposal. This will be an element in the next round of public and stakeholder engagement.
6. If a decision is taken to manage uranium, spent nuclear fuel and plutonium as wastes, they should be added to the inventory and immobilised for secure storage followed by geological disposal. There must be clarity about the inventory that is to be disposed of by the time that communities are invited to express a willingness to participate in the implementation process (see below). Any additions to that inventory should be the subject of an additional stage in the process.
7. Community involvement in any proposals for the siting of long term radioactive waste facilities should be based on the principle of volunteerism, that is, an expressed willingness to participate. Participation should be based on the expectation that the well-being of the community will be enhanced.
8. Willingness to participate should be based on the provision of community packages that are designed both to facilitate participation in the short term and to ensure that a radioactive waste facility is acceptable to the host community in the long term.
9. Community involvement should be achieved through the development of a partnership approach, based on an open and equal relationship between the potential host community and those responsible for implementation.
10. At the end of each stage of the decision making process there should be provision for a review and the right of communities to withdraw from the process before proceeding to the next stage, up to a pre-defined point.
11. In order to ensure the legitimacy of the process, the key decisions at each stage should be ratified by the appropriate democratically elected body(ies).
12. CoRWM considers that an open and transparent process is an essential precondition to successful implementation of these recommendations.
CoRWM takes no position on the desirability or otherwise of nuclear new build. We believe that future decisions on new build should be subject to their own assessment process, including consideration of waste. The public assessment process that should apply to any future new build proposals should build on the CoRWM process, and will need to consider a range of issues including the social, political and ethical issues of a deliberate decision to create new nuclear wastes.