Criterion 4: Design, engineering and inventory

In this criterion the Partnership sought to be satisfied:

  • That the design concepts for a repository that are being developed are appropriate at this stage.
  • With the proposed inventory to be managed in a facility.

Design & Engineering

The Partnership accepted that the detailed designs would depend on location and be tailored to the geography and specific geological structure at the site in question.

Its initial opinion was that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s generic designs for a repository were appropriate and flexible enough at this stage in the process.


The Partnership believed that it is important not to rule out the option to retrieve waste from the facility at a later date.

This is not a simple issue. There would be advantages and disadvantages to sealing off a repository completely or keeping the waste accessible.

The Government has said they are content that the issue of ‘retrievability’ is left open at this stage.

This issue would be resolved much later in the process taking account of the views of local communities.


The types and amounts of radioactive wastes that would go into a repository – the inventory – could affect things like the design, size and the amount of time it operates for.

Based on the most recent estimates of the amount of waste that could be placed into a repository it is estimated that the underground facilities could be between 6 and 11 times the size of the Royal Albert Hall in terms of volume.

However, it is not possible to be certain how much waste would actually be put into a repository this far in advance.

The Partnership said that it had made satisfactory progress towards agreeing a set of principles with the Government that define an acceptable process for how the inventory could be changed, including how the community can influence this. 

The issue of whether waste from new nuclear power stations would go into a repository is of concern to some people. 

The Partnership agreed that this is an important issue but felt that this is a decision to be made if or when new nuclear power stations are constructed in the UK.

Criterion 5: The siting process

Criterion 6: Public and stakeholder views

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