U.K.’s RWM launches geological disposal research office

August 7, 2020, 12:23PMRadwaste Solutions

RWM’s new research office will study geological disposal of nuclear waste in the U.K.

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), the U.K. government organization tasked with planning for a geological disposal facility (GDF) for radioactive waste in the United Kingdom, announced on August 4 that, in partnership with the University of Manchester and the University of Sheffield, it has established the Research Support Office (RSO) to “harness the U.K.’s vast array of research capabilities in geo-disposal science and technology.”

The new office is to provide RWM with independent research to help guide the organization in designing and building a U.K. deep geological facility for the permanent disposal of high- and intermediate-level waste.

Research themes: According to RWM, the RSO will focus its research on nine themes: advanced manufacturing, applied mathematics, applied social science, environmental science, geoscience, materials science, public communication of science, radiochemistry, and training. To undertake the needed research within these areas, teams from partner universities will be supported by around £20 million (about $25.8 million) in funding over a period of up to 10 years.

RWM also hopes that the university partnerships will support the development of the next generation of researchers and build a community of subject matter experts for geological disposal.

What they're saying: “I am thrilled to be leading this exciting new initiative for RWM,” said Lucy Bailey, head of the RWM Research Support Office. “Through the RSO we will harness the best research expertise across the U.K. to build the knowledge and understanding required to underpin the safety case to deliver a GDF that deals permanently with the U.K.’s higher-activity waste.”

The U.K. is currently conducting a consent-based siting process to identify possible sites for a GDF. For planning purposes, RWM is assuming that a facility will be available to receive waste beginning in the 2040s.

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