Parliamentary questions: Radioactive waste storage sites

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Radioactive Waste (Consultation)

7 July 2005 : Columns 440-1 13. John Robertson (Glasgow, North-West) (Lab): What discussions she has had with the Chairman of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management on publication of the findings of its public consultation programme. [10120]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): None. Corwm will undertake a number of rounds of public and stakeholder engagement as part of its agreed work programme. It is for Corwm to decide precisely how it will publish its consultation findings in line with its guiding principles of openness, transparency and the provision of a full audit trail for the recommendations that it eventually delivers.

John Robertson: I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, but does he not agree that while we are waiting for Corwm to produce its solution, particularly for high-level waste, it is important for the people of this country to understand what is happening with that sort of waste and know that it is secure, so that we can go forward into the future with a balanced energy policy?

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend is right. It is important that current waste storage facilities are properly regulated by the Health and Safety Executive, the nuclear installations inspectorate and the Environment Agency-and I can assure him that that is the case. We need a long-term strategy, particularly for high-level nuclear waste, and that is Corwm's remit. It will report in July next year.

Nuclear Waste (Portsmouth)

6 July 2005 : Column 429W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead of 21 June 2005, Official Report, column 887W, on nuclear waste, what the location is of the radioactive waste in Portsmouth; how much material is stored; how long it has been stored in this location; from where the material originated; who is responsible for the security of the site; and if she will make a statement. [8630]

Mr. Morley: Information about the amount of intermediate (ILW) and low level (LLW) radioactive waste held in the UK, including that held at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, is regularly published in the UK Kingdom Radioactive Waste Inventory which provides periodic snapshots of waste stocks. The latest edition for 2001 was published in 2002. However, MOD has provided additional information to answer some of the hon. Member's questions. At HM Naval Base Portsmouth solid LLW, very low-level (VLLW) and small quantities of ILW, are securely stored in a radioactive storehouse facility under the radiological control of the MOD Naval Base Radiation Safety Officer. The Inventory indicates that 3 cubic meters of LLW and less than 0.1 cubic meters of ILW are stored. ILW and LLW is stored for a maximum of three years before it is removal from the site, while VLLW is either disposed of immediately or stored for a period not exceeding 14 days.
The wastes primarily consists of naval equipment, such as dials, gauges, compasses and gaseous tritium light sources, which have been removed from naval vessels that have left service and are in the process of disposal. In addition, small quantities of LLW are also stored at the Naval Base on behalf of the Institute of Naval Medicine. Security of the stored radioactive waste is maintained through the Captain of the Base.

Radioactive Waste Disposal

6 Jul 2005 : Column 429W

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs following the release by NIREX on 10 June of the list drawn up by its consultants of 537 sites across the country deemed potentially geologically suitable to locate a nuclear waste disposal repository, if she will make it her policy to postpone for three months the deadline of 27 June set by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management prior to the release of the list, for responses to its current second stage public consultation on radioactive waste management options. [9450]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 July 2005]: No. This previous site selection exercise was abandoned in 1997. UK Government and the devolved administrations subsequently established the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), under the "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely" programme, to provide recommendation on the best option, or combination of options, for the long-term management of the UK's higher activity radioactive waste. CoRWM will deliver its recommendation by July
2006, in light of which future policy will be decided. Government have said that once the requirements for any future facility, or facilities, is known, in light of that policy decision, there will be an open and transparent discussion of the process and criteria to be adopted for site selection. The old Nirex list will not be the starting point for any future site selection process. There is no site selection process currently on-going. Hence there is no need or justification for extending the deadline for CoRWM's latest round of consultation.

MoD Radioactive waste 

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 22 June 2005, to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), Official Report, column 1040W, what proportion of the waste relates to the Ministry of Defence. [9103]
Mr. Morley: The proportion of the wastes which relate to the Ministry of Defence is between 2 and 3 per cent. The figures are deduced from the 2001 UK Radioactive Waste Inventory. The 2004 inventory should be published this autumn.