Government consults on nuclear waste policy

Decommissioning Dounreay generates a variety of different wastes that need to be managed carefully to protect the public and environment from harm. Some of this waste is radioactive.

The most hazardous form of radioactive waste generated at Dounreay is known as intermediate-level waste and comes from a variety of redundant plant such as nuclear reactors, fuel reprocessing and laboratories.

A key part of the site closure programme is to condition this waste in a form that makes it suitable for long-term storage or disposal. This is done by mixing the waste with cement and immobilising it in drums and boxes.

Once immobilised in these containers, the waste can be house safely in secure stores at the site pending a decision about its long-term management. Some of the waste remains a hazard for thousands of years.

Policy on radioactive waste in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In 2007, the new Scottish Government announced it did not support the deep geological disposal approach of the UK Government and would bring forward a policy for "near surface, near site" facilities for this waste in Scotland.

On January 15, the Scottish Government announced a consultation on its proposed policy. Click here to read its announcement.

The approach proposed by the Scottish Government is for “near surface, near site facilities”, allowing waste to be monitorable and retrievable with minimal need for transportation over long distances. It would allow waste to be transported for treatment elsewhere and returned.

Click here to read the consultation document. The closing date is April 9.