NERC Derisking Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the UK
Closing Date: 23/03/2023
Funding for a single consortium to research how lower strength sedimentary host rock environments might be impacted by the introduction of a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is working with the Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) (a division of the government-funded Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)) to fund a project to understand and predict how lower strength sedimentary host rock environments might be impacted by the introduction of a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste. This information constitutes a pre-announcement and therefore some details may change.
Nuclear power is an important part of the UK government’s plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, alongside renewable energies. To increase the proportion of the UK’s energy produced through nuclear power, there is a need to invest in new capability, as well as have a clear plan for disposal of the generated nuclear waste in a way that is not harmful to the environment or human health. The development of a geological disposal facility (GDF) is central to government policy regarding the management of higher activity radioactive wastes.
Lower strength sedimentary rocks (LSSR) are one of the geological environments identified as being potentially suitable for providing a host rock in which to construct a GDF. However, there are fundamental knowledge gaps around the geology, hydrogeology and controls on subsurface properties of these systems that must be addressed to provide the underpinning knowledge required to inform future decisions around a potential GDF in the UK.
A single diverse, multidisciplinary team is needed to enable the application of new expertise to address three challenge areas. The successful consortium will jointly integrate new research in geology, hydrogeology, radionuclide behaviour and predictive modelling to understand and predict how potential lower strength sedimentary host rock environments might be impacted by the introduction of a GDF. The three areas are:
- Geological isolation challenges.
- Contaminant pathways.
- Mathematical modelling (integrating the above).
The selected consortium of researchers will undertake fundamental underpinning research that will advance understanding of the potential effects of an introduced radioactive waste GDF on lower strength sedimentary host rock. This includes detailed conceptualisation of the geology and groundwater.
This programme is independent from other investments and work concerning a siting of a GDF within the UK, however, it is expected that through the partnership between NERC and NWS, the funded consortium will work with other current NWS investments, including via the research support office.
|Funding body||Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)|
Engineering and Physical Sciences
|Fund or call||Fund|