A European Commission draft directive into nuclear waste is to urge that it should be put in deep geological sites.
The report is not released until November 3 but has been leaked to news agency Reuters, which today reports that it states: “The current situation of spent fuel and radioactive waste management in EU member states is not satisfactory.”
The report concludes: “Without EU action there is an increasing risk of a negative environmental impact over time. Geological disposal is the only end-point option that is being actively pursued.”
The leaked report comes in a week when two areas of the UK cleared the first hurdle in their bid to be potential sites for deep geological nuclear disposal.
Scientists from the British Geological Survey carried out research on Copeland and Allerdale in West Cumbria to ascertain whether a waste site would harm the quality of groundwater or be at risk of intrusion from any future measures to extract underground resources.
The report came back all clear and a local partnership which is behind the proposal can now push on to the next stage of its planning, which would involve further and more in-depth scientific analysis.
Energy minister Charles Hendry yesterday hailed the results of the survey as “a step forward”.
He added: “We must progress implementation of geological disposal, the long-term sustainable solution for dealing with radioactive waste. These results do not present any reason why West Cumbria cannot continue to consider whether or not to participate in that process.”
The report comes after a Nuclear Energy Forum was held in London this week, where the waste topic was high on the agenda.
Steve Hornsby, nuclear power leader at IBM, said that nuclear was winning over the public – “75% think it is inevitable,” he said – but added that resolving the waste issue remained top of people’s concerns. “Waste disposal is crucial in securing public opinion,” he stressed.