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News from Nuclear Waste Services: NWS decides not to take Allerdale further in GDF siting process due to limited suitable geology

January 1, 2024

Article originally published 28 September 2023

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) has been engaging with the Allerdale community about the potential for hosting a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) to dispose of the UK’s most radioactive waste.

As part of this process NWS obtained existing data and undertook assessments to understand if six siting factors, safety and security, community, environment, engineering feasibility, transport, and value for money, could be supported if a GDF were sited in Allerdale.

Following a comprehensive and robust evaluation of information it was concluded only a limited volume of suitable rock was identifiable and the geology in the area was unlikely to support a post closure safety case. NWS has therefore taken the decision not to take Allerdale further in the search for a suitable site to host a GDF.

Initial assessments of existing data and information for the other three communities in the siting process have indicated potentially suitable geology, which is why NWS is continuing in the siting process with those communities.

Corhyn Parr, CEO of Nuclear Waste Services

Corhyn Parr, CEO of Nuclear Waste Services

Corhyn Parr, CEO for NWS, said:

“After careful consideration NWS has reached a decision not to take Allerdale further in our search for a suitable site to host a GDF.

“We need enough suitable geology to accommodate a GDF and to support safety cases to build, operate, and close the facility. Our assessments show evidence of limited volume of suitable rock for a GDF in the Allerdale search area, including the adjacent inshore area.

“We wish to thank the Community Partnership and the Chair for their hard work, time, and commitment. They have been instrumental in active local engagement and working with community groups who we have been able to support through NWS community funds.

“There is a positive legacy to the Allerdale community’s participation in the process, with around £2 million GDF Community Investment Funding supporting over 50 local projects which we will continue to support.

“We’re engaging with three other communities about hosting a GDF, with site evaluation work underway in these areas. The door also remains open for new communities to join the process.”

The GDF Programme is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country. It will dispose of higher activity waste deep underground, safely and securely containing and isolating the waste making it safe for future generations.

The GDF programme requires both a suitable site and a willing community and is still in the early stages. Construction will only start on a GDF when a suitable site is identified, a Potential Host Community has confirmed its willingness to host the facility through a Test of Public Support, and all the necessary consents and permits have been obtained. These steps could take around 15 years.