Welsh Government Seeks Views On Radioactive Waste Disposal Policy

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The Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies is publishing a call for evidence on the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste, and is seeking views on the current Welsh Government policy and on the various options it might consider in the future.

The Welsh Government is required by the EU to report its policy for the safe and responsible management of radioactive waste by summer 2015. Ahead of this date the Welsh Government is keen to ensure that its policy remains relevant and reflects changing circumstances.

The UK has accumulated a substantial amount of higher activity radioactive waste over the last 50 years following military nuclear programmes, electricity generation in nuclear power stations and the use of radioactive materials in industry, medicine and research.

Further to this, the decision by the UK Government to build a new generation of nuclear power stations will result in additional volumes of radioactive waste that will need to be safely disposed of.

While the UK Government has supported a policy of geological disposal for the management of radioactive waste since 2008, until now the Welsh Government has neither supported nor opposed this policy.

The Welsh Government is now seeking views on its radioactive waste disposal policy to ensure it remains relevant and reflects changing circumstances.

Alun Davies – “This call for evidence on the safe management of radioactive waste will stimulate an important debate and I would urge anyone with a view to feed into the process”

However the Minister for Natural Resources has emphasised that no decision to change policy has yet been made. He also stressed that any change in policy would not necessarily result in a disposal facility being built in Wales or any indeed any other part of the UK.

The building of any disposal facility would be dependent on a host community voluntarily coming forward and on the successful conclusion of discussions with that community which could last up to a decade.  Even with the current Welsh Government policy a community in Wales could seek discussions about potentially hosting a geological disposal facility.

Plans for any potential disposal facility in Wales would also depend on the approval of a safety case by Natural Resources Wales and the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Alun Davies said: “This call for evidence on the safe management of radioactive waste will stimulate an important debate and I would urge anyone with a view to feed into the process.

“Once the call for evidence is complete, I will make a decision on whether a full policy review is required. Any such review would be done in an open and transparent way and will involve a thorough consultation process.

“I want to reassure people that even if we did decide to review our policy for the disposal of radioactive waste this would not necessarily result in radioactive waste being disposed of in Wales or indeed any other part of the UK.  Any future disposal facility would depend on a host community voluntarily coming forward.”

As part of the call for evidence respondents are being asked whether Welsh Government should review its current policy on higher activity radioactive waste, and if so whether disposal options should be limited to geological disposal or widened out to include other options.

To respond CLICK HERE

 

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