The United Kingdom (UK) has been producing radioactive waste for over 60 years. During this time increasing quantities of higher activity radioactive waste have been stored pending a decision about long term future management and final disposal. Extensive studies took place from the 1970s until the late 1990s (see, for example the 1997 report from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and the 1999 report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology). However, neither an acceptable disposal method nor a site could be agreed.
2003: Government sets up Committee on Radioactive Waste Management
Government sets up CoRWM to review the options for safely managing the UK’s higher activity waste and to make recommendations on the long term solutions.
CoRWM takes on extensive and intensive programme of work to:
- evaluate options
- identify scientific knowledge and uncertainties
- learn from international experience
- consider ethical issues
- engage with the public and stakeholders
The Committee consists of 12 members from a wide range of backgrounds, chaired by Professor Gordon MacKerron.
2006: CoRWM makes recommendations
CoRWM reports (doc. 700) Size: [2204.03 KB] File Type: [.pdf] to Government with 15 integrated recommendations Key recommendations:
- The best available, for the long term, is theGeological disposal solution.
- Safe and secure interim storage is needed prior to geological disposal.
- The storage programme should be robust to delays in or failure of the geological disposal programme.
- There should be a flexible, staged approach to implementing geological disposal.
- Further research and development is required on both storage and geological disposal.
- Communities should be invited to volunteer to host a geological disposal facility; there should be no imposition.
Government accepts most of CoRWM’s 2006 recommendations and asks for a report on implementation
2007: Development of partnership approach
In 2007 CoRWM reports on Implementing a Partnership Approach to Radioactive Waste Management (doc. 2146) Size: [467.56 KB] File Type: [.pdf].
This advises on:
- Processes to identify potential volunteer communities
- Ways in which communities could express an interest
- How local partnerships could work.
2007: New remit and members for CoRWM
Goverment reconstitutes CoRWM to provide scrutiny and advice on taking interim storage, geological disposal and other aspects of the long-term management of higher activity wastes forward.
2008: White Paper: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely sets out way forward
Following consultation the UK Government publishes the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) White Paper in 2008.
The MRWS paper
- Sets out a framework for implementing geological disposal.
- Invites Local Authorities to express an interest in entering discussions with Government about participating in the process of siting a geological disposal facility.
- Applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland.