After considering all possible options. including ones that were proposed in the past, and considering past and current practices in other countries, CoRWM recommended deep geological disposal of the wastes in specially constructed underground chambers as the best possible solution to the disposal of nuclear and toxic wastes. This proposal had been blocked by local bodies in the 90s, citing health hazards. To overcome strong resentment, the government was more than willing to develop partnerships with potential candidate sites.
Geological disposal is a long-term waste management option involving the placement of radioactive waste in an engineered repository at between 200 and 1000 metres underground where rock structures provide a barrier against the escape of radioactivity. This process has been successfully implemented in many countries in the west and the UK has also been a major beneficiary of this technique. However, there remains a core group in the UK who find this hard to believe and have blocked moves by the government to implement it in many communities around the UK.
The UK has a history of failure of finding an acceptable site for the disposal of intermediate and high-level radioactive waste (ILW and HLW). Limited space and local opposition are two factors that contribute to this problem. Under the circumstances, the largest volumes of waste are stored at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, in addition to significant volumes of waste stored at the various nuclear power stations around the country. This is a temporary solution as, in addition to this waste, created through fifty years of nuclear operations, will be the waste produced by the decommissioning of the older generation of nuclear facilities. The current estimate of the total radioactive waste inventory after decommissioning is complete is around 238,400 m3 of ILW and 2,710 m3 of HLW.
Higher activity waste from the nuclear, chemical, and biological industries, involved in military uses and academic research, is to be managed through long term geological disposal. .