Managing radioactive waste safely

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Radioactive waste is a by-product of the nuclear industry. It includes materials such as fuel, equipment and packaging that are no longer needed to create nuclear energy but still contain radioactivity.  To protect people and the environment, this waste needs to be stored somewhere safe and cool where its level of radioactivity can be monitored.

Copeland already hosts the UK’s only Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) site, which opened in the 1950s and in recognition of the national contribution the local community is making a Community Benefits package was negotiated with Government.  The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) pays £1.5million a year into the fund for every year that the repository is operating; in addition to an initial endowment of £10m.  The fund is administered by The Copeland Community Fund.

In 2008, the UK Government launched a search for a geological disposal facility (GDF) – an engineered, underground site that will be the final home for the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste.

Copeland Borough Council, Allerdale Borough Council and Cumbria County Council have volunteered to consider hosting this facility.

Who’s involved?

The  West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership (MRWS) is a fact-finding and research-gathering group that  recommends options to the three local councils.  The partnership consults technical experts when they need to.

Partners  include:

  • Allerdale Borough Council
  • Borough of Barrow in Furness
  • Carlisle City Council
  • Churches Together
  • Copeland Borough Council
  • Cumbria Association of Local Councils
  • Cumbria Chamber of Commerce
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Cumbria Tourism
  • Eden District Council
  • GMB Northern Region (trade union)
  • Lake District National Park Authority
  • National Farmers’ Union
  • Nuclear Legacy Advisory Forum
  • Prospect
  • South Lakeland District Council
  • Unite the Union

How’s it going?

In July 2012 the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership completed its work programme. 

They published the findings in August 2012 and distributed them to the three decision-making councils – Copeland BC, Allerdale BC and Cumbria CC. The report is being considered a decision on whether to continue in the process was to be made on the 11 October 2012, but the decision was deferred for further consideration until 30 January 2013.

On 30 January 2013, Copeland Borough Council and Allerdale Borough Council both agreed to move to the next stage of the MRWS process. However Cumbria County Council did not take a decision to participate. This means that the current MRWS process has come to an end.

However, as over 70% of the waste that would go to a facility is already housed in Copeland, we are keen to coninue discussions with the government about what it plans to do not to deal with the waste. 

Find out more

The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership (MRWS) prepared some Questions and Answers about geological disposal in West Cumbria.


Published: 20 August 2012 - 2:28pm