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The Welsh Government Opens Public Consultation on Radioactive Waste

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales are asking for public views on a new policy for the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste.

The Minister for Natural Resources Wales (Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru) is publishing a new consultation paper on the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste and is seeking views on the review of the current policy.  The consultation is also seeking views on future policy and what other management options the Government could consider.

All Governments within the EU are required to report on their policy for the safe and responsible management of radioactive waste by summer 2015.  As part of this requirement the Welsh Government is looking to ensure that its policy remains relevant and can be flexible to reflect any changing circumstances.

Over the last 50 to 60 years the UK has accumulated a significant quantity of higher activity radioactive waste.  This waste has arisen from military nuclear programmes, electricity generation in nuclear power stations and through the use of radioactive materials in industry, medicine and research.  Furthermore, the UK’s recent decision to progress with the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations will result in the ongoing production of such wastes.

This radioactive waste must be disposed of safely to ensure it does not present a risk to human health and the environment.  Since 2008 the UK Government has supported a policy of geological disposal for radioactive waste, although the Welsh Government has neither supported nor opposed this policy.

Geological disposal is just one of the options presented within the consultation.  However the Minister for Natural Resources has emphasised that a change in policy would not necessarily result in a disposal facility for radioactive waste being built in Wales.  He also stressed that the building of any disposal facility in Wales, or in England, would be dependent on a host community being prepared to come forward voluntarily to discuss potentially hosting a geological disposal facility.

The Welsh Government has issued the consultation with preferred options of adopting a policy for the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste and for geological disposal to be the long term management route.  However, the Welsh Government has also taken no final decisions about these preferred options and is therefore seeking views about these issues and other options for the future management of radioactive waste.

The consultation is open to the public until the 22nd January 2015 and can be found here on the Welsh Government website.

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