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Options  for  the long-term management of solid low level radioactive waste from the decommissioning of Dounreay are  the  subject of a public consultation announced today by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

The Ultimate Goal

Approximately  100,000  cubic  metres  of  solid  low  level waste (LLW) is expected to arise during the 50-60 year life of the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan. The short list of options consists of:
  Indefinite storage at Dounreay
  Disposal to the national LLW facility at Drigg, Cumbria (for some of the
   waste only)
  Construction of a surface disposal facility at Dounreay
  Construction of a shallow, below-surface disposal facility at Dounreay
  Construction of a 50m-deep disposal facility at Dounreay
  Construction of a shallow, below-surface facility elsewhere in the
  Disposal alongside intermediate-level waste in a future possible UK

UKAEA  is  also  seeking  the views of the public about the options for the long-term management of 30,000 cubic metres of historical  LLW  contained  in the existing authorised disposal facility at
Dounreay that is now full. The options for this historical waste are:
  Leaving the waste in place with a permanent engineered covering cap
  In-situ immobilisation and capping
  Retrieval for management with future arisings

A consultation document that summarises the issues is being issued today to more than 800 stakeholders who have registered an  interest  in  the  Dounreay Site Restoration Plan. The document is also available on the UKAEA website.

A  preliminary  assessment of the options can also be found on the website, alongside independent reports of three panels of stakeholders  who  weighed up the options. The separate panels consisted of people who work at Dounreay, external stakeholders from  as  far  afield  as  Shetland and Cumbria, and a group of high school students from Caithness and Sutherland.

The closing date for comments on the options is 25 November  2003.

UKAEA Dounreay director Peter Welsh said: "LLW is by far the largest volume of radioactive waste we must deal with in dismantling the site, though it is in the lowest category of radioactivity.  Identifying and implementing the best practicable environmental option  for  managing  LLW  is  fundamental to delivering the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan."

LLW  project  manager  David Broughton said: "Managing low level waste from the decommissioning of the site is one of the major projects in the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan, so it is important that the views of stakeholders are an integral part of the decision-making process.  The  stakeholder  panels  were the first step in gathering views and I look forward to learning more of the views of other stakeholders during this next, wider phase of public participation."

UKAEA's public participation policy was launched in January 2001.  Anyone can register an interest as a stakeholder in the site restoration plan via the UKAEA website. They receive automatically regular informationbulletins and consultation material. A separate consultation exercise is also currently taking place about the options for disposal of active solvents and oils at Dounreay.

Low level waste typically arises from two major activities at Dounreay. Used protective clothing, replacement parts and laboratory equipment arises continuously from waste management and decommissioning operations.  Rubble, concrete, scrap and steel arise from the demolition of redundant

Current arisings of LLW at Dounreay are held in temporary store at the site. Current national policy is to dispose of LLW, so regulators have instructed UKAEA to use the national disposal facility at Drigg in Cumbria to dispose of some of this waste. An application has been lodged by UKAEA with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. This is an interim measure pending the outcome of the BPEO process for the long-term management of LLW.

A preliminary assessment of the options and the independent reports of the stakeholder panels can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk/dounreay/dsrpnews.htm.