BGS news

British Geological Survey signs Memorandum of Understanding with Radioactive Waste Management

24/06/2020 By BGS Press

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has today [Wednesday, 24 June] entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreement with Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) to inform the UK’s geological disposal programme.

The two independent organisations today jointly published a five-year agreement that sets out a framework for collaborative work at strategic, technical and operational levels.

The collaboration between both organisations is intended to support improved environmental outcomes relating to a UK Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

A GDF works by isolating radioactive waste in secure engineered containers, beneath several hundred meters of solid rock deep below the surface.

A major long-term environmental and infrastructure project for the UK, planning for a GDF is expected to take between 15 to 20 years.

BGS has a long established history of research in the disposal of radioactive waste in the UK and internationally based on years of expertise since the mid-1950s.

The research BGS undertakes into the disposal of radioactive waste is scientifically independent and impartial.

BGS research on this topic is subject to peer-review and is intended to better inform debate and decisions about the siting of a GDF for radioactive waste in the UK, and for similar facilities elsewhere in the world.

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Karen Hanghøj, Director of the BGS, said: “The agreement with RWM will help to maintain BGS’s impartiality whilst enabling us to provide the high-quality and objective geoscientific knowledge and expertise required for the delivery of a UK Geological Disposal Facility.

“BGS research will help to progress the UK’s understanding about the rocks below its surface, and their suitability for hosting a GDF, as the importance of finding environmentally sound solutions for the issue of radioactive waste disposal grows.

“It’s also important that communities and their representatives understand how geoscience plays a role in the process of evaluating sites for suitability, and this will form part of our work.”

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Karen Wheeler, Chief Executive of RWM, said: “Delivering a Geological Disposal Facility to permanently deal with UK’s higher-activity radioactive waste is the right thing to do.

“BGS will play a key role in ensuring we receive expert impartial advice as we work on this vital national programme.

“Their expertise in UK geoscience is unparalleled and crucially they will help us fully understand the rocks below the surface and their suitability for a GDF.”

The MoU is publicly available to view on the BGS website here.

To find out more about why a geological disposal facility is being considered in the UK and answers to other important questions, please visit the RWM section of the gov.uk website.

For further details please contact:

Sarah Nice, British Geological Survey Press Office: +44 (0)7989 115 657 / email

For out of hours please contact the BGS press team: 07790 607 010 / bgspress@bgs.ac.uk

The full Memorandum of Understanding can be viewed here.

More information about geological disposal can be found by visiting Radioactive Waste Management pages here.

Notes for Editors

British Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world leading applied geoscience research centre that is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and affiliated to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). BGS core science provides objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to inform UK Government on the opportunities and challenges of the subsurface. It undertakes national and public good research to understand earth and environmental processes in the UK and globally. The BGS annual budget of approximately £60 million pa is funded directly by UKRI, as well as research grants, government commissions and private sector contracts. Its 650 staff work across the UK with two main sites, the head office in Nottingham and Lyell Centre, a joint collaboration with Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. BGS works with more than 150 private sector organisations, has close links to 40 universities and sponsors about 100 PhD students each year. Please see www.bgs.ac.uk.

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