At a briefing held yesterday to outline plans for an underground repository for high-activity nuclear waste in the United Kingdom, Bruce McKirdy of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said the U.K. government had learned from past mistakes to be open and transparent with the public. To this end, NDA has released a new report today detailing the amount of nuclear waste that needs to be stored and how they will use a "volunteer system" to select a suitable site.
The last attempt for such a facility in the United Kingdom came to a halt in 1997 when a planning application for construction at Sellafield in Cumbria was refused due to opposition by the local community. "The site selection had been done behind closed doors, as the government was worried about adversely affecting house prices," McKirdy says. "If you choose a site that would be geologically suitable and then impose these plans on a community, projects like this fail." A recent high-profile example of this is the abandoned plans for an underground nuclear waste disposal facility at YuccaMountain in the United States.
To avoid a similar fate, NDA is currently asking communities to volunteer to host the facility in exchange for a currently undefined benefits package. However, local communities are far from champing at the bit to store the nation's nuclear waste.