Legacy waste treatment, storage and disposal, as well as decommissioning and site remediation, from the UK’s civil nuclear programme are estimated at a cost of £70B. Within the UK, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) directs the strategy for all civil nuclear decommissioning and demanding timescales have been set for remediation of all nuclear sites. Additionally, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recently delivered a recommendation, accepted by Government, that geological disposal in a mined repository presents the “best available approach” for long term management of the waste legacy. There is therefore a requirement to decommission all power generation and experimental reactors, and fuel reprocessing plants, to decontaminate land, and to return nuclear licensed sites to brown or green field status. The engineering and scientific challenges that lie ahead in meeting these targets are significant, and many of the ideas required to deliver the final end state have not yet been researched. In recognition of this the UK Research Council’s Energy Programme released a call for research proposals in the area of nuclear waste management and decommissioning valued at £4M. A grant was subsequently awarded in 2008 to a consortium led by the University of Leeds, with member universities from Manchester, Imperial College, Sheffield, Loughborough and University College London. The DIAMOND (Decommissioning, Immobilisation And Management Of Nuclear Wastes For Disposal) consortium will undertake research aligned with the strategic priorities of the NDA and the CoRWM recommendations. Its primary purpose is to be adventurous and to deliver innovation. However, research is also being performed that will be of more immediate benefit to industrial stakeholders, with near-term impact achieved through the adoption of off-the-shelf technology currently implemented by other industries. Currently more than 20 industrial organisations are linked directly to the consortium. The aims of the consortium are to carry out internationally leading research in the areas of decommissioning and waste management that underpins the development of innovative and relevant technologies for industrial use. It will broaden the research base that focuses on relevant technologies, support new links within and between universities, promote multi-disciplinary collaboration and new applications of existing knowledge, and train the next generation of researchers to address a developing skills gap.

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