The dozen UK locations short-listed as possible sites for a deep underground radioactive waste depository have been named after most were kept secret for 15 years.
Five of the sites are in Scotland and seven in England. Two of the locations were already known, Sellafield and Dounreay, both of which are existing nuclear industry or research complexes.
In 1997, the outgoing Conservative government refused permission for an underground Rock Characterisation Facility at Sellafield, which was planned as the precursor to an intermediate-level radioactive waste repository there.
Two of the candidate sites were close to British Nuclear Fuels Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.
The naming of the 12 sites by radioactive waste agency Nirex follows requests for their disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
The list includes two uninhabited Scottish islands and two undersea locations (these would have required access from Hunterston on the west coast of Scotland or Redcar on the north Yorkshire coast).
The full list is as follows:
- Dounreay, Caithness
- Altnabreac, Caithness
- Sellafield, Cumbria (two locations)
- Bradwell, Essex
- Potton Island, Essex
- Killingholme, south Humberside
- Stanford, Norfolk
- Offshore‚ÄìEast (serviced by Redcar port)
- Offshore-West (serviced by Hunterston port)
- Fuday, Western Isles
- Sandray, Western Isles
The UK currently has no final resting place for either intermediate or high-level radioactive waste and ministers have stated that finding a suitable repository will be a prerequisite if ultimately the government decides a new-build civil nuclear power programme is required. The government is not due to consider a new site selection process until 2007/8. Unlike the controversial exercise in the 1970s and 1980s, the hunt will be on for a location capable of taking both intermediate and high-level waste.
Not all of the sites originally assessed as suitable for an intermediate-level depository will satisfy the requirements for a facility also taking high-level waste.
In addition, new concerns about rising sea levels could rule out some of the original short-listed sites in any second attempt to find a repository location. However, Nirex has acknowledged that “sites considered suitable previously on geological grounds could be considered suitable in a future site selection process.”
MORE INFORMATION Radioactive Sites