PREPARING TO DECOMMISSION OUR NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS
Decommissioning involves removing all spent fuel and then deconstructing the site over many decades and managing the associated radioactive waste that is produced during the process. At the end of decommissioning, the power station sites will be returned to their original state, with no restrictions on their future use.
We already have Baseline Decommissioning Plans (BDP) for all our existing stations. These set out the strategy and associated cost estimates for decommissioning and are updated every three years. In 2016 we increased focus on the preparation works for decommissioning, preparing more detailed defueling and decommissioning plans, in advance of 2023, when we expect our first stations to end their operating lives.
The funding for the decommissioning and waste management of EDF Energy’s existing nuclear sites comes primarily from the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF), into which we have been paying for many years. This is administered by the Nuclear Liabilities Fund Trustees- independent of EDF Energy and UK Government. We will start to receive funding for the first stages of decommissioning in 2017.
DECOMMISSIONING NEW NUCLEAR STATIONS
Our Nuclear New Build teams have worked with Radioactive Waste Management Limited to show how we will safely and securely dispose of spent fuel and radioactive wastes from our new power stations, such as Hinkley Point C. The Energy Act 2008 requires the operator of a new nuclear power station to provide secure financing arrangements to meet the full costs of decommissioning and waste disposal before construction can begin.
Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear project to have a Funded Decommissioning Programme which was approved by the Government in 2015. We are proud to be setting this precedent, which ensures we are taking full responsibility for our power station from start to finish.
LONG-TERM STORAGE SOLUTIONS FOR RADIOACTIVE WASTE AND SPENT FUEL
We’re working with the UK Government, non-governmental organisations and others to develop a UK Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) as a long-term solution to radioactive waste.
The UK Government’s preferred solution, supported by EDF Energy, is to construct a single underground site known as a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). As a producer of radioactive waste and spent fuel, we contributed to the consultation on the GDF, emphasising its importance to our existing and future operations.
The Scottish Government’s policy is to store waste near the surface, near the nuclear site that produced it. We will follow this policy for our two nuclear power stations in Scotland.
We have a suite of governance arrangements to manage conventional and radioactive waste across our fleet. In the context of radioactive waste and spent fuel management, which we work to on an ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) basis, which is one of the fundamental principles of risk management. We neither need nor want to manage risk to the point where we eliminate it, because doing so is simply not a good use of resources.
We have the following aims:
Reducing generated radioactive waste and optimising spent fuel
Effectively using the waste management hierarchy
Using reprocessed uranium in our existing fleet of power stations where appropriate
We continue to explore the options for and fund research in reusing spent fuel material in future reactor designs and also optimise end of life fuel usage for older AGRs. The safe management of radioactive waste on nuclear licensed sites in the UK is regulated by the ONR under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (as amended). Radioactive waste disposal is regulated by the Environment Agency in England and Wales and by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland.
In the UK, solid radioactive waste is classified into four categories:
Low Level Waste (LLW), for which a near surface disposal route exists – Including the LLW Repository at Drigg West Cumbria.
Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), for which no disposal route is currently available in the UK; although we continue to provide support to the Government on a long-term solution.
High Level Waste (HLW) is defined as radioactive waste in which the temperature may rise significantly as a result of the radioactivity, so this factor has to be taken into account in the design of storage and disposal facilities.
Higher Activity Waste (HAW) - this is effectively HLW, ILW and any LLW that are unsuitable for near-surface disposal.
Examples of LLW include: redundant equipment; waste from maintenance activities; plastic; rubble; old protective clothing from our nuclear power stations; used filters and resins. HLW results from the reprocessing of AGR fuel at Sellafield. HLW contains high levels of radioactivity which generates heat. There is no HLW stored on any EDF Energy power station. Spent nuclear fuel is not considered to be waste until a decision has been made to dispose of it.
For more detailed information and waste performance data please visit here.