The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management
The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is an independent committee appointed by the UK Government. Their task is to review the options for managing those UK radioactive wastes for which there is no agreed long-term solution. CoRWM has been asked to consult and to make recommendations to the UK Government in 2006. The UK Government will make future decisions and policies.
CoRWM has been asked to work in an open, transparent and inclusive manner, to provide an opportunity for members of the UK public and other key stakeholder groups to participate.
But - there is no solution to nuclear waste
Gordon McKerron, chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, told campaigners that "there is no solution to the nuclear waste problem, only different ways of managing it." The response came at a Bristol meeting in January 2006 where concerns were voiced about dynamics within the committee which might bias it towards industry favoured options and a perceived end 'solution', also paving the way to nuclear new build.
Gordon refuted the claim that Amec Engineering, who manage systems for CORWM and have an interest in new build, were making decisions that might affect CoRWM's conclusions in July'06. But he also said he felt under pressure by the Government's recent announcement to reconsider 'new build', which he said would create three times more high level waste.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks has publicly stated that, "the UK's failure to deal with its nuclear waste is a national disgrace." He mistakenly implied that other countries have satisfactorily resolved the issue - which is far from true.
The 'Deep Repository' is claimed by the industry to be the best option accepted by other countries but for many this is just a 'decision in principle'. The very long time scales required, during which the waste will need to be monitored, pose difficult issues which have not yet been resolved. There is very little factual evidence or practical experience of how the wastes and barriers will react and perform over time. Factors such as 'institutional control' and 'retrievability' have not yet been satisfactorily determined and most countries are still envisaging a time scale of at least 300 years before sealing off any repositories.
Stainless steel containing early nuclear waste at Harwell, has almost completely disintegrated after just 45 years.
Thanks to Jan Bayley for text taken from her submission.www.corwm.org.uk/