AWE’s radioactive waste plan is sixteen years overdue, but is it realistic? In September 2016 the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) closed an Improvement Notice that had been issued to AWE the previous year. The notice said they had to choose a plan for dealing with the stocks of Higher Activity Waste (HAW) stored at Aldermaston, an issue regulators have been trying to get AWE to address for sixteen years. While few details of the proposed process have been made public, an assessment by the ONR shows that serious questions remain over whether AWE can stick to their timetable. HAW is the term used for radioactive waste that cannot be disposed of in the Low Level Waste (LLW) repository in Drigg, Cumbria. HAW consists of the two most dangerous categories of waste: High Level Waste (HLW) and Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) as well as some types of LLW that Drigg is unable to accept. From the 1950s until 1983, radioactive waste generated at AWE was simply dumped at sea, so the waste currently stored on site has been produced during operations and decommissioning since 1983. It is mainly comprised of ILW, and is not thought to contain any HLW. The safest way to store radioactive waste is to treat it so that it is immobile and passivated, meaning that it has been processed into a solid form where it is unlikely to chemically react with its surroundings and corrode or degrade. None of the HAW at AWE has been treated in this way.
NIS 21st April 2017 read more »
In March the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) announced that it had issued identical improvement notices to Aldermaston and Burghfield regarding the way safety documentation is handled. The sites are required to make changes to their processes within a certain timescale, which was not made public in the initial announcement.
NIS 20th April 2017 read more »