Trade unions have welcomed the formation of a working party to investigate a site for the disposal of radioactive waste in Copeland in Cumbria which could generate thousands of jobs in the future.

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority group (NDA), today (Wednesday 4 November) said it would start local discussions about the siting of a geological disposal facility (GDF) in Copeland.

If the project gets the go-ahead, it will support at its peak about 2,000 jobs during the initial construction phase, with an average of about 1,000 jobs to support operations in the next 100 years – including jobs in engineering and business support.

Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy (TUSNE) welcomed the news that a working group, aimed at exploring the possibility of a GDF, is to be established in Copeland. The safe and secure management of higher activity radioactive waste is an imperative for the nuclear industry and a priority for the UK. 

TUSNE believes that a consent-based process, with community involvement at its heart, is the best way to find a site. Dealing with the waste is the right way forward, so it won’t not leave a legacy for future generations to look after.

TUSNE chair and Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said: “The UK has the skills and experience to be the world leader in nuclear decommissioning and waste management.

“We have waited a long time for a solution for how the UK manages its higher radioactive waste in the long term. 

“This is only the beginning of that process, but it is good to see a community prepared to seriously consider what a GDF might mean to them in terms of economic generation and well-skilled jobs for the generations to come.” 


Notes to editors:

TUSNE represents workers from across the nuclear industry and advocates a balanced energy policy with a strong contribution from nuclear generation.  Amongst its membership, there is a vast array of skills and expertise. A GDF is a vital component of the nuclear fuel cycle and an opportunity to build on that skill base creating many hundreds of skilled jobs for future generations.

Radioactive Waste Management, formed in 2014, is responsible for geological disposal to manage higher activity waste in England and Wales by finding a willing community and suitable site to construct and operate a UK GDF for the long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste. RWM is a public body and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.