School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

Sellafield radioactive waste

Radioactive waste in the UK has been produced and stored, but not yet disposed of. In 1994, the Government company Nirex applied for permission to build a Rock Characterisation Facility (RCF) at Longlands Farm, near Sellafield in NW England. The resulting planning inquiry lasted until 1996, and in 1997 the Environment Minister decided to reject the Nirex application. This halted the development of radioactive waste disposal in the UK, until revisited by the CoRWM in 2007.

Evidence given by the Objectors at that planning inquiry contains technical information, as well as points of principle, which are still relevant to the UK in 2008, and onwards through the exploration process to identify new site(s) for radiaoctive waste storage.

A book, compiled from the written evidence submitted by the Objectors at the inquiry, was printed by the University of Glasgow. This is still available for purchase at UK 12, by email to .

A pdf of contents can be downloaded in sections

Entire Document: 'Radioactive Waste Disposal at Sellafield' PDF, 524pp, 253MB
Download by section:
Section 0: 'Contents & Overview' PDF, 7pp, 2.3MB
Section 1: 'Cumbria County Council' PDF, 82pp, 41.3MB
Section 2: 'Greenpeace Limited' PDF, 123pp, 59.4MB
Section 3: 'Friends of the Earth Limited' PDF, 284pp, 181MB
Section 4: Authors' Affiliations & Addresses
Outline Diary of the Planning Inquiry
PDF, 34pp, 15.5MB

The mood at the time of this Inquiry was encapsulated in a quotation a few years earlier from Sir John Knill - past Chair of the Committee for Radioactive Waste Management in the UK

"Members of the public could be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that, somehow and somewhere, a decision had already been made to construct a deep repository for radioactive waste at Sellafield"

Hopefully, something positive has been learned from this protracted and expensive process.