Fact: Most nuclear fuel can be recycled to create new fuel or byproducts. A small amount of nuclear waste does need to be stored, but for less than 300 years (not thousands).
Over 90% of the waste produced from nuclear power stations is classified as low or intermediate-level waste. That includes things like scrap metal, paper, plastics and clothing, and most of it can be processed at a repository in Cumbria.
A small amount of nuclear waste is classed as high-level waste and does need to be stored long-term. The main hazard with high-level waste is radioactivity, although this diminishes with time.
The nuclear industry has developed many technologies to deal with the waste produced. At the moment, nuclear waste is stored above ground. These stores on the surface can be kept safe for decades. Ultimately, the UK Government is establishing a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) to provide a permanent solution for this type of waste.
Geological disposal is when nuclear waste is placed into special containers, which are then placed in tunnels and vaults under many hundreds of meters of solid rock.
EDF will store all the nuclear waste and spent fuel produced by new power stations onsite during their 60-year operational period. The site will then go into a programme of decommissioning and the waste transferred for long-term storage. Decommissioning involves shutting down the power station safely so it no longer needs radiation protection measures.