Radioactive Waste Management

GSL provides a complete range of radioactive waste management services.  In addition to strategic integrated analysis and Best Practical Environmental Option (BPEO) studies, we undertake inventory audits,  and studies covering all aspects of  waste conditioning, packaging, transport, storage and disposal. We have extensive experience of helping to develop and review nuclear waste management and decommissioning programmes, including facilitating workshops, and providing advice on stakeholder engagement.

Waste Inventory Audits

  • We developed liquid and gaseous active effluent inventories at the Magnox North Chapelcross site, including models that provided a forecast of abatement requirements during the decommissioning programme.
  • We compiled the Low Level Waste (LLW) inventory for the New LLW Facilities at Dounreay.
  • We compiled a site-wide Active Waste Water (AWW) inventory for the Hinkley Point A decommissioning site and made forecasts of abatement requirements during the decommissioning programme. We reviewed arrangements for AWW management at Hinkley Point A. We evaluated the capability of the effluent treatment plants to cope with the forecast AWW arisings and made recommendations to improve plant capability.
  • We reviewed the 2004 Baseline Decommissioning Plan (BDP) inventory for solid LLW at Hinkley Point A, and compared it with LLW inventories and LLW management strategies at other Magnox decommissioning sites (Hunterston A, Trawsfynydd and Berkeley). Inventory estimates were provided for different waste management strategies.

Waste Storage Studies

  • We led and participated in several studies that supported the technical development of the UK (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – NDA’s) Industry Guidance on Interim Storage of Higher Activity Waste (HAW), including a review of higher activity wastes interim store performance and monitoring, development of a methodology for determining Intermediate-Level Waste (ILW) package monitoring and inspection requirements, a methodology for store baselining and identify relevant monitoring technologies for use in stores and roadtesting of Issue 1 of the Industry Guidance (published in 2012).
  • We have undertaken reviews of radioactive waste storage in the UK and internationally, and provided recommendations on best practice for storage and inspection procedures for contact-handled and remote-handled (shielded) low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (L/ILW). This work has been performed for both regulators and waste owners. It has included the consideration of environmental issues in stores, and detailed evaluation of issues important to the ageing of wasteforms and waste packages. For the UK waste disposal organisation (precursor to RWM), we evaluated waste package longevity and condition monitoring in storage facilities, and produced guidance for quality checking of packages.
  • For NDA and site management companies, we developed a cost model to support a viability assessment of the case for consolidation of interim ILW storage and provided technical and editorial support for the business case for further work in this area. We also developed an NDA business case for storage consolidation in the South of Scotland.
  • We have undertaken quantitative assessments of long-term performance of waste in stores (timescale of hundreds of years and more).
  • Dr. Galson served as Technical Assessor at the Public Inquiry into the decommissioning of the Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Plant, in which establishment of a new ILW store was a key focus.

Waste Processing and Packaging Studies

  • Provided technical support to RWM’s Upstream Optioneering project, which aims to identify and implement opportunities to improve the radioactive waste management lifecycle. We authored a three year programme of opportunities, which included one-page briefs for a wide range of radioactive waste management options, including those related to decommissioning, waste packaging and disposal, and wastes at the LLW/ILW boundary. From 2012 onwards, we have provided task based support to the Upstream Optioneering team, including development of task briefs, project management of tasks to address specific opportunities, technical report writing and benefits realisation management. We also have had significant roles in tasks on robust shielded containers, and dealing with problematic wastes.
  • We have conducted Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) and Best Practicable Means (BPM) studies of management of waste from Windscale Pile 1 and Pile 2, including consideration of a waste treatment, encapsulation and packaging options.
  • We have also conducted several BPEO studies dealing with options for management of wastes from the Legacy Ponds and Silos (LP&S) facilities at Sellafield, including identification and evaluation of alternative waste treatment, encapsulation and packaging processes.
  • We have conducted an international review of radioactive waste immobilisation matrices for low-level waste (LLW), intermediate-level waste (ILW), high-level waste (HLW), spent fuel, and UK stocks of depleted uranium and plutonium.
  • GSL staff have managed radiochemistry, gamma spectrometry and geochemical analysis laboratories, and are familiar with analysis instruments and methodologies.  We have reviewed waste characterisation methods and levels of precision for the Environment Agency of England and Wales.

Waste Disposal Studies

  • We developed the environmental safety case (ESC) for the new low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities at Dounreay, which have received a RSA93 authorisation. Work included review of waste packaging and conditioning options, input to engineering design, and safety assessment. We also provided technical support for optimisation (Best Practicable Means) and site selection analyses.
  • We provided technical support to the development of the Low Level Waste Repository 2011 ESC, including steering of the ESC development, technical review, human intrusion assessment and development of Level 2 documents on management and dialogue and non-radiological hazards.
  • We conducted a viability assessment for near-surface disposal at the Hunterston A site, including development of the inventory, site characteristics summary and performance assessment reports.
  • We have conducted assessments of disposal options for decommissioning wastes with very low levels of activity.
  • For SNIFFER (Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research), we developed a methodology for determining the radiological capacity of controlled landfill sites to take solid LLW, and a methodology for acceptance of dustbin disposals of radioactivity.