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National geological screening for radioactive waste disposal – GSL establishes independent review panel

25 March 2015

At the request of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Geological Society1 has established an independent panel to review and evaluate the guidance for national geological screening, which will inform the process of identifying a suitable site or sites for geological disposal of the UK’s radioactive waste.

The national geological screening guidance is being developed by Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM), following a July 2014 White Paper2 setting out the framework for the siting of a Geological Disposal Facility.  RWM will also be responsible for applying the national geological screening guidance.

The panel will assess whether the guidance is geologically and technically sound; can be applied using existing geological information; and provides a basis for assessing the prospects for developing a long-term safety case in a range of geological settings to accommodate the UK inventory of higher activity waste. Later in the process, the panel will assess whether the guidance has been applied accurately and consistently, and in a manner likely to engender public confidence.

The panel will report to DECC after each phase of its work. It is expected that the initial review of the screening guidance will be completed by June 2015, with the second phase expected to extend into 2016. The panel will operate independently of the Geological Society, DECC and RWM, and in carrying out its assessment will engage with RWM and its contractors, members of the public and interested stakeholders.

The panel includes members with a broad range of geoscience expertise, and includes experts from the UK, Sweden and Canada, with backgrounds in both industry and academia. Two members were selected from among those who volunteered to join the panel in response to an open call to Geological Society Fellows.

The panel members are:

Prof Chris Hawkesworth FRS (University of Bristol) (chair)

Prof Zoe Shipton (University of Strathclyde)

Prof Mike Bickle FRS (University of Cambridge)

Mr John Black (Insite Hydro / independent consultant)

Dr Robert Chaplow (independent consultant)

Dr Karin Högdahl (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Prof Richard Smith (Laurentian University, Canada)


Biographies of panel members and a document setting out the remit of the panel can be found at

Contact information:

  • Independent Review Panel – Sarah Day, Geological Society press office
Telephone: 020 7432 0954 Email:   
  • National geological screening – Simon Napper, Stakeholder Engagement Advisor, RWM. Email:; Tel: 01925 802900. Or Sarah Read, Senior Campaigns Manager, RWM. Email:; Tel: 07860 780041.


Notes to editors:


  1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body of over 11,000 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.


  1. The July 2014 White Paper on Implementing Geological Disposal can be found at