Work underway to prepare nuclear waste for final disposal

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Repository site begins work processing 260 containers to make nuclear waste permanently safe, sooner.

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), which operates the UK’s Low Level Waste Repository in Cumbria, is currently preparing 260 containers of nuclear waste for final emplacement in disposal vaults at the repository site.

This latest programme of grout infilling, sealing and securing containers of nuclear waste, follows a programme of refurbishments at the site and will take over five months to complete.

This work completes the radioactive waste disposal journey; 260 containers full of low level radioactive waste – which could include a wide range of materials, predominantly from the decommissioning of nuclear facilities – will be encapsulated in a cement based grout to form a monolithic block, ensuring that radioactive waste is managed safely and in line with environmental regulations.

Following this work, containers will be ready for final disposal and will be placed in concrete vaults at the repository where they will remain.

Ahead of this work NWS made extensive improvements to the grouting facility at the site, including replacing old equipment, introducing new technology and improving the building’s infrastructure.

Russell Beckwith, Operations Manager at the Low Level Waste Repository, said: Safety is our priority. Moving forward with this work takes the waste to its final disposal destination, helping us to achieve our goals of making the waste permanently safe, sooner. The UK has been producing and managing radioactive waste for many decades and will continue to do so for many more. Our goal is to ensure that waste disposed of both safely and securely and in a way that is sustainable and protects people and the environment.

Most radioactive waste arising in the UK is Low Level (LLW) or Very Low Level (VLLW). Nuclear Waste Services delivers solutions for this waste, including at the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR), as a valuable but finite resource for low level waste disposal.

This nuclear licensed site enables the safe, compliant, and effective management of Low Level waste materials needing disposal in engineered vaults.

In the last decade Low Level and Intermediate Level waste has been dealt with more sustainably. Alternative options such as re-use, recycling, decontamination, incineration, and specialised landfill, (for waste with the very lowest levels of radioactivity), are now preferred with disposal at the LLWR site seen as a last resort.

Publication Date
11 July 2023
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