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Geological Society launches policy briefing on radioactive waste disposal

12 March 2020

cover page of the geological disposal of radioactive waste briefing note Today the Geological Society has published a policy briefing note on the geological disposal of radioactive waste. The eight-page briefing note explains how radioactive waste can be safely disposed of below ground, and how the UK’s search for a long-term disposal site will work.

Radioactive waste is produced by a number of sectors, including medical facilities, nuclear power plants and the defence industry. This waste material produces radiation at a level that can be harmful to health and the environment. Whilst such material can be stored in well-insulated buildings or in shallowly-buried sites in the short term, different solutions are required for long-term disposal.

In 2008, the UK Government elected to use a geological disposal facility for long-term waste storage. The facility will sit between 200 and 1,000 metres below the surface, protecting people and environments at ground level from exposure to harmful radiation.

This policy briefing explains the science behind the geologic storage of radioactive waste, and what factors geologists and engineers will consider in identifying the most appropriate site for a geological disposal facility.

The briefing note also provides information about the ongoing search for a site, led by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM). The siting process, as it is known, is led by local communities, who are welcome to contact RWM for initial discussions and to submit a proposal.

The document was reviewed by two independent experts in geology and radioactive waste disposal.