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ⓘ Nirex was a United Kingdom body set up in 1982 by the UK nuclear industry to examine safe, environmental and economic aspects of deep geological disposal of int ..




                                     

ⓘ Nirex

Nirex was a United Kingdom body set up in 1982 by the UK nuclear industry to examine safe, environmental and economic aspects of deep geological disposal of intermediate-level and low-level radioactive waste.

                                     

1. History

Originally known as the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive, it became United Kingdom Nirex Limited in 1985. The ownership of Nirex was transferred from the nuclear industry to the UK Government departments DEFRA and DTI in April 2005, and then to the UKs Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA in November 2006. Nirexs staff and functions were integrated into the NDA in April 2007, at which point Nirex ceased trading as a separate entity. Nirexs role continues through the activities of the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate of the NDA.

Nirex had gained widespread notoriety during the 1980s as the focus for widespread public opposition to the burying of nuclear waste in the UK. Nirex was based at Harwell, Oxfordshire and had several roles:

  • to produce on behalf of the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs an updated public record of the quantities and types of radioactive waste in the UK;
  • to continue to develop understanding of the scientific, technological and environmental options for dealing with radioactive waste, including developing an understanding of the requirements for public acceptability.
  • to set standards for radioactive waste packaging. It monitored the processes of organisations and companies to check, for example, that they had procedures for keeping adequate records;
  • to advise organisations and companies that produce radioactive waste on how they should package radioactive waste;

Nirex was also involved in keeping the UK abreast of international expertise in research and development into the disposal of radioactive waste.

During the mid-1980s proposals for low-level nuclear waste repositories at Billingham, Elstow, Bradwell, Fulbeck, and South Killingholme were abandoned due to local opposition. In 1989, work began on two possible sites to take both intermediate and low-level waste near Dounreay in Caithness and near Sellafield in Cumbria. Following preliminary investigations at both sites, Nirex announced plans in October 1992 to build a" Rock Characterisation Facility” RCF at Sellafield. Nirex critics including Cumbria County Council, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace argued that the RCF was an integral part of Nirexs repository plans and in effect a trojan horse for an intended nuclear waste repository. It was also successfully argued that the RCF proposal was scientifically flawed and that Nirexs scientific knowledge was insufficient to prove that disposal was safe for any site. In 1997, following a five-month local planning inquiry, the Secretary of State for the Environment rejected Nirexs case.

The Inquiry Inspector said "chemical containment is new and untried, with more experimentation and modelling development indubitably required. This work would to my mind be particularly difficult and important because of the problems of meaningfully testing some of the components of the concept. Implicitly Nirex feels unable to credit the notion that this barrier would fail; but the lack of any calculation based on an adverse, as distinct from a conservative, interpretation of this chemical containment seems to me to be an unfortunate omission from the emerging safety case, particularly having regard to FOEs impressive critique of the concept.".

                                     
  • 1973 oil crisis. In 1985 the Killingholme site was listed as a possible NIREX disposal site for low level nuclear waste, causing substantial opposition
  • Billingham complex, which further reduces the area s carbon footprint. In 1983, NIREX announced a proposal to use the now - disused anhydrite mine as a site for
  • THORP In 1982 the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Management Executive NIREX was established with responsibility for disposing of long - lived nuclear
  • Technical report AEA Technology plc, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK.: Nirex NSS R376 and or NSS R375. Greenfield, B.F. Holtom, G.J. Hurdus, M.H.
  • Against Nuclear Dumping BAND when the then nuclear waste disposal agency NIREX planned to store medium - level nuclear waste in a disused anhydrite mine
  • 1973 oil crisis in 1985 the Killingholme site was listed as a possible NIREX disposal site for low level nuclear waste in 1986 the CEGB listed Killingholme
  • community in Sheffield. Patrick Thomas Tom McInerney, Managing Director, UK Nirex Ltd. Findlay Blair McQuarrie, Director West, The National Trust for Scotland

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