GDF Community Partnership South Copeland

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Studies begin in South Copeland to understand feasibility of a GDF

March 8, 2023

An update from Nuclear Waste Services, the GDF developer:

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) has started its initial investigations to begin to understand the suitability of hosting a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in South Copeland.

The desk-based studies will look at the feasibility of delivering a surface facility connected to the geology of interest off the coast.

A GDF is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of higher activity radioactive waste. It is made up of a surface site and a larger underground facility which would be linked by sloping tunnels and/or vertical shafts.

Illustrative view of a GDF

Illustrative view of a GDF

Deep geology beyond the coast is being considered for siting the underground elements of a GDF in South Copeland. This means a surface facility on, or near, the coast would provide access to a disposal area deep in rock beyond the coast.

Studies may take around 2-3 years and will look at a range of topics which have taken into consideration community feedback gathered since the formation of the Community Partnership.

The work will include looking at issues such as geology, labour & skills, local power supply and transport. Another study is accessways – which looks at potential options for underground tunnels linking a surface site to an underground facility. Contracts have now been issued to supply chain specialists to carry out some of this work.

A single surface facility would require approximately one square kilometre – however all the elements of the surface facilities may not need to be together in one place. The underground part of a GDF will be located at a depth of between 200 and 1,000 metres.

Simon Hughes, Nuclear Waste Services’ Siting Director, said: “The work we’ve now started will address the most common topics to have emerged from our discussions with local people. It will begin to give us a much better understanding of the suitability of the area and enable us to consider how different elements of a GDF could be delivered in Copeland.

“A GDF is a multi-billion-pound infrastructure project, which could bring significant economic opportunities and thousands of jobs to the area which eventually hosts it.

“It’s quite unique in having a construction and operation timeline of around 150 years, so we need to be thinking long term.”

The Chair of South Copeland GDF Community Partnership, Ged McGrath, said: “We welcome news of the site evaluation studies commencing, as the information provided will help to answer many of the questions raised by members of the public and aid understanding as to whether South Copeland could be a suitable location to host a GDF. We will keep the community updated with the latest information as and when the findings emerge.”