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Radioactive waste must go deep underground

Only deep geological disposal can provide a long-term, safe and sustainable solution for radioactive waste, according to a joint report published by the Geological Society of London and the British Geological Survey.

Geoscience has the methodology and interpretative capabilit...
Only deep geological disposal can provide a long-term, safe and sustainable solution for radioactive waste, according to a joint report published by the Geological Society of London and the British Geological Survey.

Geoscience has the methodology and interpretative capability to characterize a potential repository site successfully, they say.

The report resulted from a two-day discussion forum on geosciences and radioactive waste disposal in February. 60 geoscientists, including academics, consultants and contractors, geoscientists who had represented environmental groups on radioactive waste management issues, and professionals from regulatory and waste agencies, attended the meeting. They discussed a series of significant questions concerning the design and delivery of a sound waste-management policy.

After the meeting, BGS director Dr David Falvey said: "Underground disposal of nuclear waste is the best practical option available to us here and now. While total exclusion of potentially harmful radionuclides from the environment cannot be indefinitely guaranteed, their placement in the right subsurface geological setting can provide a relatively safe, effective and practical containment, extending well beyond their harmful life."

Geological Society President Dr Robin Cocks said: "The remarkable degree of agreement displayed at the conference and reflected in this document demonstrates that the Earth science community has the capability to deal effectively with this problem. It also shows how this Society and the BGS, as the national bodies for geoscience in the UK, can act to bring all relevant expertise together".

The report will go forward to a forthcoming meeting to consider radioactive waste management issues, organized by the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (UKCEED) on 21-24 May 1999.
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