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Dalton Nuclear Institute

generated graphic of a waste management building and surrounding land

Geological disposal of radioactive waste

We host the Nuclear Waste Services Research Support Office (NWS RSO), in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, to support the delivery of independent evidence-based research that will underpin implementation of a UK Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

We are delighted to be working in partnership with The University of Sheffield and NWS on this exciting new venture to deliver world-leading, high quality, relevant research that underpins the UK’s radioactive waste disposal programme.

Professor Kath Morris / The University of Manchester

The background

The UK has over 60 years’ worth of accumulated radioactive waste, some of which will remain hazardous for millennia.

The plan to dispose of this waste is in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) which is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and could be operational for a century or more.

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) is responsible for implementing geological disposal of radioactive wastes in the UK.

The challenge

A large body of research is required for the successful planning and delivery of a GDF, and a community must be found that will consent to host it in return for long term social and economic benefits.

NWS needs to present a safety case that satisfies both the regulator and the host community, and this requires academic expertise – in social science, materials, the underground environment, groundwater, radioactivity, movement of radioactive materials – and so NWS must have strong relationships with universities and university research must align with NWS needs.

There is also a need to develop the next generation of researchers and build an enduring community of subject matter experts for geological disposal.

The solution

NWS identified a need for support to co-ordinate and develop networks across the research community. Therefore in January 2020 the Research Support Office (RSO) was launched as a collaboration between the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield and NWS.

Working together, the two universities and NWS are building an academic community to focus on important knowledge gaps and examine the latest science and technology to support geological disposal.

The RSO identifies and coordinates research, bringing together UK academic institutions to form collaborative, long-term research partnerships and fostering a multi-disciplinary approach to Nuclear Waste Services.

Our research programme includes wholly funded research, part funded research with UKRI and academic and industry partners, PhD studentships, and engagement in international projects.

The benefits

Based at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute and headed by Professor Kath Morris, the RSO is in a unique position to build a strong relationship between the academic community and the work of NWS.

The RSO will:

  • Deliver academic research outputs that align closely with NWS’s needs.
  • Centrally manage and deliver coordinated and targeted research.
  • Improve contextual understanding and engagement across the academic stakeholder group.
  • Capitalise on economic opportunities from universities and other funding bodies, to drive forward research.
  • Develop the next generation of subject matter experts required to underpin the NWS geological disposal programme.

Having this knowledge and expertise coordinated across the UK’s academic institutions allows NWS and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority group, regulators, and supply chain to tap into the latest academic expertise, research and thinking.

Visit the NWS RSO website