Waste Management: Radioactive Waste

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government

To ask Her Majesty's Government where low-level radioactive waste storage sites are located; how many successful and unsuccessful applications for low-level radioactive waste storage have been made in the past five years at each location; and how many applications for the storage of low-level radioactive waste are outstanding at each location.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, House of Lords, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change), Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Low level radioactive waste (LLW) generally has a low potential hazard and can consist of contaminated equipment and protective clothing from facilities that handle nuclear material, or contaminated materials such as concrete rubble.

Storage of radioactive materials and waste on licensed nuclear sites in the UK is regulated by the HSE's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. Waste quantities and sources are set out in the UK Radioactive Waste Inventory (www.nda.gov.uk/ukinventory/sites/). Most LLW is generated on nuclear sites but is only routinely stored for short periods before being sent to the LLW repository in west Cumbria. One new nuclear installation has been licensed to store LLW in the past five years-that for a metal recycling facility operated by Studsvik UK in west Cumbria. There have been no unsuccessful applications to store LLW at nuclear licensed sites and no applications are outstanding.

Radioactive waste is also generated in smaller quantities by non-nuclear industry activities such as the health, education and wider industrial sectors and is regulated by the environment agencies. If authorised by the environment agencies, LLW can be stored on these non-nuclear sites. In England and Wales, 775 non-nuclear premises are authorised by the Environment Agency and most of these will involve storage of small amounts of LLW, pending disposal. Most of the applications for authorisations in the past five years were approved. In Scotland, over 300 non-nuclear premises are currently authorised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

In Northern Ireland, there are 25 non-nuclear premises that hold authorisations for the storage of LLW. Four of these have been authorised in the past five years, no unsuccessful applications have been made and there are no applications pending.

Further information can be obtained from the relevant environmental regulators. Their website details are as follows:

www.environment-agency.gov.uk; and

www.sepa.org.uk.

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