More urgency required in radioactive waste management, Lords say

25 March 2010

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on radioactive waste management, focusing on the performance and remit of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM).

The report states that it is essential that the Government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme continues to progress as rapidly as possible, and expresses concern that neither the Government nor CoRWM are conveying any sense of urgency to move forward with all possible speed.

The report concludes that the CoRWM could, in its role as independent scrutiniser and adviser to the Government on the MRWS programme, better hold the Government to account on the progress being made in developing a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste.

The Committee makes several recommendations designed to strengthen CoRWM’s scrutiny role, including proposals that:

  • the Government publish clear policy milestones for all aspects of the MRWS Programme and include an assessment of their progress against these milestones in an annual report
  • CoRWM formally provide the Government with independent advice on draft, as well as established, policies that have implications for the management of radioactive waste
  • CoRWM contain more members with experience of business and practical on-site operations and engineering

Commenting on the report, Lord Broers, Chairman of the inquiry, said:

"Previous reports from the Committee on this subject have all expressed disappointment at the slow progress being made by the Government on this important issue, and we remain concerned that there isn’t a great enough sense of urgency from either the Government or CoRWM to push forward the development of a geological disposal facility as quickly as possible.

"We believe that CoRWM could play a more active role in driving forward the MRWS programme by scrutinising, and if necessary reporting on, the Government’s progress."

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